DOHA (From a special envoy).- Their footballers move, they also have fun. As in the first public appearance in this city. Once again the coaching staff opens the scene, everyone in a corner awaits the departure of the main characters… and once again Lionel Messi makes himself want. He does not appear with the rest of his companions, just like Exequiel Palacios. “Where is Messi?” asks a Qatari TV producer. The captain still does not appear. There is no information about his situation. It was only known that the first day he had been in the gym and that later he joined the tasks of the rest of his classmates. The absence multiplied the questions, it no longer mattered that Ángel Di María, Rodrigo De Paul or Nicolás Otamendi were playing a “crazy” and that some laughter was heard. Only the “what about Messi?” flies through the air.
When it seemed that the time allowed by FIFA to take images was running out (it’s barely 15 minutes), exactly 240 seconds before the end of that period, Messi came out walking along with Luis García, one of the kinesiologists. He did not join the rest of his teammates, but went to a further sector to make some individual movements. Some cones were arranged on the grass and the captain of the Argentine team began to move.
At the precise moment that it was shown publicly in Qatar for the first time, the flashes of the cameras of all the media in the world multiplied and flooded the environment. The reality is that almost everyone was there to see Messi. And of course, once everyone managed to see him, since he didn’t join the crazy with his colleagues, the questions intensified: “Does Messi have something? Why does he work with the kinesiologist?”
According to versions close to the team, he is just a little tired. He was in the 90 minutes of the game in Abu Dhabi, something agreed between the player and Scaloni. In addition, he added the trips of the last days (Paris-Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi-Doha). To avoid any setbacks ahead of the debut with Saudi Arabia, they agreed to dose the loads and manage Messi’s efforts. Nothing more. The coaching staff let him be, and he is satisfied with that. The one who was not there was Lisandro Martínez, who presented some lines of fever.
Getting to this University is a real adventure. The complex is huge. And through gate 3 you enter a labyrinthine city that is full of parking lots, security and fences. In one of the offices that were built especially for the occasion, the other Lionel, of Scaloni is spoken of, does not stop diagramming in his mind the coming days.
The rarity was that Messi for the second day in a row did not appear before the cameras. That got attention. The minutes that the Rosario man has of activity in his body are what push him to take certain precautions: 75 minutes with Auxerre on Sunday the 13th; Full training in Abu Dhabi on the 15th, and another 90 in the friendly against the United Arab Emirates on the 16th. Four days of physical exertion and travel. Anyone could say that a “no” would be enough to protect him, but he also knows that it is not very easy to assume such a thing.
So, Scaloni lets flow. He thinks and thinks about his first step in this World Cup, for that he needs his full captain, happy, connected with the cause. The DT unites pieces, manages moods and egos. It is he who knows that his first move on the board towards the final has to be perfect, he does not want to make a mistake on that move. For this reason, he analyzes each piece, reviews each action, determines the potentialities, combinations and partnerships that result for the strategy to be successful. There are not many questions that keep him awake, but the ones he has he attends to.
Scaloni walks with his players, encourages them, applauds his boys who activate their legs with a “crazy”. He doesn’t even look towards Messi’s exit, that’s a different universe. The coach chats with his assistants, first with Walter Samuel, then with Pablo Aimar, later with Roberto Ayala and he thinks, he thinks all the time. It doesn’t stop. On the other side is Matías Manna, another member of his laboratory. They need to figure out how to complete the design for the premiere with Saudi Arabia.
There are not many mysteries for them, Messi does not seem to be a problem in that way. Although Giovani Lo Celso’s injury put them in a very uncomfortable situation and that is a matter. He tried variants, thought of alternatives, tested Julián Álvarez for the sector and even put together a line of five in the background and put Lisandro Martínez occupying the space that Lo Celso covered. He wants to study all the possibilities, he knows that it is natural to think of Papu Gómez, Alexis Mac Allister or Enzo Fernández.
He feels that perhaps Papu can offer him the best answers for the clash with Saudi Arabia, but the midfielder has some discomfort in his left knee, which is why he is not completely convinced. He does know that he will have it with Mexico in perfect condition, but for that there is still a long way to go. Then, the eyes are reduced to Mac Allister, because he feels that he can fulfill the offensive vocation that he seeks for this first act and also that it gives him benefits in recovering the ball. It seems that he does not want to play completely for Julián Álvarez in that sector of the field, because with the departure of Joaquin Correa, the personnel to fill the position of center forward was reduced to Lautaro Martínez and the attacker from Manchester City.
He does not want to go crazy, he is clear that most of his best staff will be available for the first step in this World Cup. The signs that during practice, with some footballers with bibs, mostly the starters, showed Cuti Romero among those chosen, then, the speculation that the Cordovan could not be in the debut was deactivated with this wink .
A question that the coaching staff asks is that of the left side: Tagliafico or Acuña. Beyond the fact that the Sevilla player had some discomfort due to groin pain, the choice will have to do with a matter of styles and not physics.