FIFA World Cup 2022: Can Maradona’s spirit inspire Argentina? | Football News – SportsMediaz


On the day Diego Maradona died two years ago, there were questions about Argentina’s survival in the first World Cup without him. But the country is not giving up on their team. Not yet.

Lautaro Martinez said no one in the team is talking of a debacle, one that could put in shade Argentina ending a 28-year wait to win football silverware with the Copa America title last year. Not yet.

Bryan and his father live in Buenos Aires but couldn’t be at the World Cup next door. The economy was not doing very well, said Bryan who spoke English. Thousands still spilled over to Brazil but Bryan said his father couldn’t afford to close his store and join them. Bryan said he was working now and has got his father over to Qatar to experience what he missed in 2014.

“We have tickets for all the group games and then we will see,” he had said with the confidence of a fan whose team had been unbeaten 36 games in a row.

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Even after Saudi Arabia happened, father and son, sat at an eatery in an Al Wakra housing cluster, said they were backing the team to get out of the group. It seems to be the feeling of many in Argentina too, according to media reports. Never has the team played worse under Lionel Scaloni and that is was unfortunate that it came in the first match of a World Cup, the reports say.

“We have not been in this situation before,” said Lautaro Martinez. Maybe that is why Jero Freixas has said: “We have to support them because this squad brought us much, much happiness.” The social media influencer, as per a Guardian report, also said: “Nobody wants to win as much as they do and they are probably sadder than anyone.”

On Friday, two years into a world without Maradona, Martinez acknowledged the backing of the fans. “They have been really special. They identify what we are doing. Tomorrow, we will be representing the country as it deserves,” said the striker who was twice ruled off-side in the first half against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday; one erroneously as clips on social media have shown.

“What can I say,” was Martinez’s reply but he acknowledged that Saudi Arabia made it difficult leading to “mistakes in the last pass.” All that though is “water under the bridge.”

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As is the stunning reversal though there were several references to the 1-2 defeat at the press conference ahead to Saturday’s game against Mexico. Martinez spoke of it being a “sad day” and “a hard blow to take” but also mentioned that “in the World Cup you don’t get enough time. We now need to be ready to face a really tough opponent.”

A World Cup debut, like it was for Martinez, can also be an “emotional” moment but that had nothing to do with the defeat because “once the whistle goes, you forget everything.” Argentina lost, the 25-year-old Inter Milan striker said, “due to our own mistakes.”

Martinez scored a hat-trick in an international friendly against Mexico in 2019, coach Lionel Scaloni’s team winning 4-1 with Leandro Parades netting the other goal.

“Tomorrow is like a final, a very important match for our future. But we have proved what we are capable of as a team. We will try and keep calm and win. That will help us keep dreaming,” said Martinez.

Between four and six points would be needed to make the round of 16, said Scaloni speaking after Martinez. The player spoke about the need to use counter-attacks, the coach said they would stick to their way of playing. “We won’t change our style because of what happened on Tuesday,” said Scaloni, Messi’s World Cup in 2006. The coach though didn’t rule out changes in the “intrepreters” of the style. Lionel Messi is fit and well, said Scaloni denying reports that he didn’t train on Thursday.

After according Mexico, coached by Argentine Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino, respect – they are an offensive team with great style, said Sacloni – both promised to “breaking their backs till the last second on the pitch” to get the campaign back on rails. It will make Argentina happy. And it will make Maradona happy. “He is looking at us from the sky. It seems unbelievable that he is not here with us. Today is a sad day for us, for everyone. We hope to bring some joy tomorrow,” said Scaloni.


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