August 1979. Zico, from Brazil, together with Diego Maradona.  Photo: Masahide Tomikoshi.

The Argentine National Team suffered one of the toughest defeats in its history last Tuesday when it fell 2-1 against Saudi Arabia, in the debut of the Qatar World Cup. With this unexpected result, Scaloni’s team was last in Group C, which is completed by Mexico and Poland. After the coup, in the privacy of the campus they only think about turning history around. But the world talks about the Albiceleste, and Lionel Messi. Among all the criticisms, one from the Brazilian Arthur Antunes Coimbra, better known as Zico.

The former 10, glory of the Brazilian National Team and Flamengo in the 80s, called “white Pelé” and old partner and friend of Diego Maradona, took out the cassette to give his opinion on Leo. In an interview with Lance, the also coach questioned Messi’s little reaction in adverse moments, especially due to his status as team captain.

“He is like that. Argentina can be winning 4-0, losing 2-1, 6-0 and he will continue to play his game, he is not going to deviate from his path. He will not call anyone, he will not yell at anyone. He is a A captain who doesn’t talk to anyone, it doesn’t come out. That’s when the highest representative of a team has to put the ball under his arm. I think he lacks leadership. He wears the captain’s ribbon just because he’s Messi, right? ?”, shot Zico, with 71 games and 48 goals in the Brazilian National Team between 1976 and 1986.




August 1979. Zico, from Brazil, together with Diego Maradona. Photo: Masahide Tomikoshi.

And he added, in his brief but spicy comment about the Rosario: “When I was captain of my team, I was almost 30 years old and I already had some control over the other players. You have to join, challenge your partner. And it is not the characteristic of Messi. I remember a Barcelona game where they lost by four against Liverpool and they were eliminated”.

Zico, 69, played in three World Cups with the Brazilian National Team, 1978, 1982 and 1986. The latter is remembered for the elimination of Canarinha in the quarterfinals, in one of the best matches in World Cup history. It was France’s victory on penalties but Zico had had the chance to define it in extra time, when he missed a shot from twelve steps. And after that move, the former soccer player became the symbol of a Brazilian generation orphaned by world titles.

Argentina against Mexico, a final

After the defeat against Saudi Arabia, Argentina finds itself facing a first ‘match point’ against: a defeat against Mexico in the second day of group C, on Saturday in Lusail, would leave Lionel Messi eliminated in what is possibly his last World.

The night is presented with dramatic overtones in this Latin American pulse, since Mexico tied without goals against Poland and adds a point, so a defeat would leave them in a very delicate situation before the third and decisive date.

The match therefore promises great emotions and the protagonists are aware of what is at stake.

“Calm down. It’s a very hard blow, a defeat that hurts, but we have to keep trusting in ourselves. This group is not going to let them down. We’re going to try to win against Mexico,” Messi promised the fans just after the 2-for-1 hit. -1 against the Saudis, in the same Lusail stadium where they will play on Saturday.

Lionel Scaloni, also reaffirmed his confidence in the albiceleste squad moved to Doha.

“There is no other option than to get up, there is no other reading, we are going to get up, continue head up and win both games,” he said, aware that Argentina continues to depend on itself and that winning Mexico and Poland is synonymous with presence in the round of 16.

Argentina saw its streak of 36 straight games without losing snapped on Tuesday, falling one short of equaling the world record set by Roberto Mancini’s Italy, but the shadow of eventual elimination at the first exchange eclipsed any circumstance.

The historical precedents in World Cups are encouraging for Argentina, which has crossed paths with Mexico three times before in World Cups and has always emerged victorious: 6-3 in the first edition, that of Uruguay-1930, and twice in another era. recently, in the round of 16 in Germany-2006 (2-1) and South Africa-2010 (3-1).

In those last two Messi was on the field and in 2006 he even played Scaloni, in what was his only game as a footballer in a World Cup.

But Mexico has the habit of overcoming the group stages of the World Cups, although then it systematically crashes in the round of 16, the round in which it was fired in its last seven participations.

The ‘anti-Messi’ formula of the Aztecs for Saturday’s game has been prepared by an alchemist who knows the Paris Saint-Germain star well, Gerardo Martino, also from Rosario, who led the 10 during a season at Barcelona (2013 -2014) and two in the Albiceleste (2014-2016).

“Today’s result does not change what we have planned against Argentina. Now there will be two finals for each of the members of the group,” said ‘Tata’ Martino after the draw against the Poles.

The image of Mexico was positive in that game, despite not winning, although there is a point that worries Martino and the fans, the lack of goals, which can be especially worrying given the solidity of Argentina.

Henry Martín was chosen to act as the 9 starter against Poland, although halfway through the second half he left his place to Raúl Jiménez, lacking in competitive rhythm due to groin pain in recent months.

Another offensive option for the match is Rogelio Funes Mori, who could be measured against his country of birth, Argentina, in whose team his twin brother Ramiro was international.

The lack of a goal for El Tri in the ‘Martino era’ is a problem that has been around for a long time and a cause for concern so as not to have to bet everything on the inspiration of the emblematic goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, a hero in the first game by stopping a penalty from Robert Lewandowski.

With information from AFP

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