Fort Lauderdale - Miami Training of the Argentine Soccer Team at the Inter Miami Club entertainment center Messi Paredes Paul Photo Juano Tesone FTP CLARIN JUA04740_1.JPG Z JTesone

It’s not about the points this time. It is not necessary to play the classification in the last dates of the playoffs, which were widely approved. Much less is it a finalissima, like the one that was decisively won against Italy in Wembley a couple of months ago. It is a friendly against a rival of little assembly, Hondurasbut for the 10 of the Argentine national teamthis Friday’s meeting at a packed Hard Rock Stadium in Miami has a motivational charge similar to all of the above.

It is that there is no more time, La Scaloneta plays the last tests before the World Cup and, beyond the fact that the match does not contain added value, the carrot of Qatar 2022 gives it the right seasoning so that it Leo Messi whose planets aligned after a first year in Paris with setbacks, now jump onto the pitch dressed again in his country with a free head and focused on the final stretch towards November.

It is not new, Leo has the World Cup event in the Middle East between eyebrows. It is enough to see his last post on Instagram to understand how involved he is. Just a short time after being the figure of Paris Saint-Germain in last weekend’s victory against Lyon (he scored the winning goal) he posted: “Important triumph before the matches with the National Team“.


Fort Lauderdale – Miami Training of the Argentine Soccer Team at the Inter Miami Club entertainment center Messi Paredes Paul Photo Juano Tesone FTP CLARIN JUA04740_1.JPG Z JTesone

The selection. Priority for Rosario, without neglecting his responsibility with the 30 of the Parisian club, who is now seeing the real Messi, at last. The previous one was not his best season for several reasons that added up and put together a combo that ended up playing against him.

Scaloni made it clear at a press conference, in case there was any doubt: “He always wants to play and he will always play with me unless something happens. It is a case different from the others. He’s fine and he’s happy. PSG have found a way of playing that understands him and we are happy for him.”

The adaptation was not easy, in football, but more than anything in everyday life. Leave the comfort of Barcelona, his house, and moving with his whole family to the French capital, which experienced a true revolution with his arrival, violated his privacy and that of his loved ones. At the beginning of the year he was a victim of covid-19 to show that deep down, Lionel Andrés is just another human.

The damn disease of the pandemic did not treat him well at all; On the contrary. It affected his lungs a little and that left some sequels that affected his performance in those first post-recovery matches.

He was not in the field. And to top it off, the blow of the early elimination in the Champions League gave the entire PSG squad a slap in the face that turned their faces. Who would have thought that an entire stadium -or a large part of it- was going to whistle at Messi, the best player on the planet? That happened in the Parc des Princes in the first half of the year and of course it was not pleasant.

Hypnotic: Messi lifts the ball with his loot, as if it were a pool cue.  Photo: AP

Hypnotic: Messi lifts the ball with his loot, as if it were a pool cue. Photo: AP

Nevertheless, La Pulga kept the focus: World Cup year. One more, but not another one. Your fifth. The last? For a matter of age, probably: I would arrive with 39 in 2026. Therefore, she faces it with extra motivation, primarily from the mental.

He did the complete preseason and recharged the energy bar as it hadn’t happened for a long time. His wife and his children are already used to their new home, something that gives you greater calm and emotional stability. And the results are on sight. Whistling is no longer heard because his start to the season is being devastating. Six goals and eight assists in eight commitments he has accumulated so far in Paris. Physically and football-wise, he was once again the magician of Catalonia.

Criticism is now praise. The sports newspaper L’Equipe included him five times in team of the week so far in the second semester. The way to play Christophe Galtier he winks at Messi. The 5-2-3 gives him freedom, he took off his corset and he can manage the team with a structure behind him that supports him and gives him security. Something similar has been happening to him for a while now in the Lionel Scaloni National Team.

Leo was reunited with his fellow Albicelestes, here on American soil, between smiles and hugs, but with the seriousness of knowing what is at stake. Because the friendly with Honduras and the one on Tuesday against Jamaica (in New Jersey), for him and for all of Argentina, are already part of the World Cup.

And luckily for the National Team and for Lionel himself, the planets aligned for the best in the world and he hopes to reach Doha.

Miami, United States. Special delivery.

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