Photograph: Mark Fletcher/MI News and Sport (Source: Alamy)
Champions of South America. Decimators of the European holders. Unbeaten in 36 matches. Waltzing into Qatar with a squad brimming with confidence, clarity, and composure, Argentina find themselves in a rather unique position. Never before in the 21st century had they been fancied as one of the top contenders for the title in the biggest show on the planet. But their place among favourites was challenged after Salem Al-Dawsari turned and wriggled his way past two defenders at the edge of the box and found top bins with the perfect swerve.
Saudi Arabia, playing in only their sixth FIFA World Cup finals, stunned and shell-shocked the South American champions into submission. The billed “contenders” had barely competed.
Just three days into the World Cup, it’s all hands on deck for Lionel Scaloni’s brigade. Argentina, of course, are used to this fight or flight mindset. In four of the five previous World Cups held so far in this century, they have never won their opening game of the tournament by a margin of more than one goal; and in Russia, Iceland made headlines after holding them to a 1-1 stalemate.
The result against Saudi Arabia, however, will take some getting used to, given the kind of form they had been in heading into Qatar. When manager Lionel Scaloni goes back to the drawing board in his office after processing the emotional and rational repercussions of the defeat, he will continue to find the big hole circled thrice over in black marker—the spot on the left side in midfield where a certain Giovani Lo Celso should’ve been.
The World Cup continues to tease and taunt Lo Celso, who didn’t feature in a single minute of his country’s cataclysmic campaign in Russia in 2018.
An automatic starter since then, his absence is a huge blow for Argentina, and even though he might have a “numerical replacement” as Scaloni claims, “football-wise there is not” one perfect solution to…
Source link : https://www.footballparadise.com/life-without-lo-celso-argentina-in-need-of-dynamic-solutions-in-qatar/
Author : Anjishnu Roy
Publish date : 2022-11-22 17:53:15
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