The Argentine captain maintained that the squad must now show that it is “a real group.”
I laughed. Lionel Messi kept that gesture as soon as he heard the final whistle of the very hard knockdown here in Lusail, but he greeted each teammate in the central circle, the meeting place for the Argentine players, before heading in droves towards the locker room. There, there was silence. At the start, the captain was one of those who spoke as he passed through the mixed zone. Self-criticism, regrets, but a message of optimism was what he transmitted on the 10th on a Qatari afternoon to forget.
How did you notice the group, especially those who were making their debut at a World Cup, in the dressing room? Clarín asked the Rosario, who answered without filters: “Dead. It’s a very hard blow because we didn’t expect to start like this. We were confident in winning and starting with the three points that give you peace of mind.”
In the same reply, Leo took the opportunity to lower the line as a leader and mark the path for what is to come: “This group has always stood out for its unity and strength and it is time to be more united than ever and to know that we have to go back to the basics of how our game works to try to beat Mexico. It’s time to show that we are a real group.”
He also left a message for the Argentine fans, who filled the stands of the stadium and the millions who followed him on TV from the country: “The message is calm. We know that it is a very hard blow, a defeat that hurts, but that people trust because this group is not going to let them down. We are going to try to get comfortable again”.
And he added in the same haranguing tone: “It’s time to be united, to turn the page and not think about what happened anymore. Take reflections, improve what we did wrong and think about Mexico. We always said that we were going to try to win all matches and now more than ever”.
Messi, who made the temporary 1-0 penalty, which meant his sixth goal in World Cups, was clear when it came to finding answers to what happened on the pitch and this surprise 2-1 defeat at the start of the World Cup .
“We found ourselves with the goal very quickly, we had situations of canceled goals and at that moment we believed that we were going to have many more situations like this. That’s why we made the mistake of speeding up and playing in one and not moving the ball from one side to the other. Anxiety and the game itself played against us. We did not find situations to be one-on-one with the goalkeeper. We did not move the ball to find the right moment and many times we fell into offside, which they they did it very well too”, was his complete analysis of the game.
Argentina had three choked cries due to an advanced position. One from Messi and two from Lautaro Martínez. But, in addition, he systematically fell offside in as many attacks. Why? “We knew that they did that of throwing the high line. We accelerated a little. They came together well and did not leave spaces. We could not find a way around it. If any of the goals had not been annulled, that already changes the story for you, but now We can’t change it. Then they got 2-1 and we started to get messy, to lose the function, to play desperately, to the centers and we couldn’t tie.” the flea.
In addition, he made a particular reading of having quickly taken advantage: “Having scored the goal so early made us confuse, it hurt us. We knew that in the first game this could happen if we did not play in the best way as we had been doing. No we found the game that we had been showing all this time. And as the game went on it became more difficult”, he explained without laps.
Messi assumed his role as the maximum reference naturally on this black Tuesday for him and the National Team. The beginning of the road was with an unexpected setback. Leo finished answering and continued silently walking down the winding corridor of the mixed zone through which all players are forced to pass.
In the end, someone asked him for a selfie. The captain stopped, interrupted his worried face to give a shy smile and left. Now he will have to prop up a beaten group indoors, but with two vital commitments ahead against Mexico and Poland to recover and go to the round of 16.
Lusail, Qatar. Special delivery.