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Alejandro Valente: 'This World Cup victory is a relief for Argentina'

2022-12-19T12:23:06.457Z


Alejandro Valente is the former head of RFI's sports department. The most French of Argentine journalists (and vice versa) delivers a sharp analysis on the victory of Albiceleste in the final of…


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Alejandro Valente: 'This World Cup victory is a relief for Argentina'

Lionel Messi's Argentina celebrating victory in the 2022 World Cup final. REUTERS - DYLAN MARTINEZ

Text by: David Kalfa Follow

8 mins

Alejandro Valente is the former head of RFI's sports department.

The most French of Argentine journalists (and vice versa) delivers a sharp analysis on the victory of Albiceleste in the final of the 2022 Football World Cup and the coronation of Lionel Messi.

A superstar he met several times and to whom he went to announce his victory for the 2009 Ballon d'Or, at "la Pulga", in Barcelona.

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RFI: Alejandro Valente, this Argentinian team seems to be one of the least talented we've seen in recent years.

And yet, she won the 2022 World Cup, despite adversity.

How do you explain it?

Alejandro Valente

 : I think it's a team that has come a long way, anyway.

She arrived in Qatar with a lot of problems: a lot of injured players, a bit like the French team for that matter.

I am thinking above all of Giovani Lo Celso who was a key element, but also of players who had to leave just before the start of this tournament, like Joaquín Correa.

The Argentines still lost important men.

In addition, other players have arrived in bad shape because they do not play or play little in their clubs, such as Angel Di Maria or Leandro Paredes.

Others were affected like Cristian Romero for example, who nevertheless made a super final, or Lautaro Martinez, who had to undergo infiltrations in the ankle and who had a lot of problems.

Initially, you could think that it was not a super strong team.

If we take position by position, some players are sometimes not even holders in their clubs or others do not evolve in super big teams.

Still, this team has a certain consistency.

It is based on a very solid defensive organization.

I think it must be the team that conceded the least chances in the whole World Cup.

Its coach, Lionel Scaloni, had the merit, after the defeat against Saudi Arabia, of changing the team, that is to say of bringing out players who were in charge but who were not in great form, like Paredes or Lautaro Martinez.

This setback ultimately proved beneficial for the team because it gave Scaloni arguments to make changes.

I am thinking of Enzo Fernandez, who was voted the best young player at the World Cup, or Julian Alvarez, who is a substitute for Manchester City, or even Alexis Mac Allister, who comes from Brighton in England.

These are elements that we did not expect as holders at the start of this competition and which were not present at the kick-off against Saudi Arabia.

In general, this kind of experience is quite tricky to conduct during a World Cup.

And yet, Scaloni had the courage to do so.

Not to mention the fact of changing his system of play several times. He managed to find, at the end of the first round, a typical team, which held the road until the end.

We could not ask this team to be, moreover, exceptional in the game. Anyway, Argentina is a team that traditionally suffers in the World Cup, which is made for that.

We knew she wasn't going to do the show.

But I think she still made some interesting matches.

Maybe it wasn't always spectacular.

But, in general, she attacked a lot, she created a lot of scoring chances each time.

And so, we can't blame him either for having sometimes remained curled up or for having refused the game.

To (re) read ► 

2022 World Cup: a legendary final and a third trophy for Argentina

Where do you place this victory in the World Cup compared to those of Argentina in 1978 and 1986?

Is she worth more?

I don't know… In 1978, it was a bit weird because it was during the dictatorship… Argentina's history in the World Cup is strange anyway.

She had played the first final in 1930 [

defeat against Uruguay 4-2, Editor's note

].

Then, from 1938 until 1954 inclusive, it boycotted the tournament for various reasons.

Then, Argentina's appearances were rarely very good, except perhaps in 1966 when they reached the quarter-finals and were eliminated by England.

In general, Argentina didn't field big teams and didn't put in big performances.

So, in 1978, it was a real first.

We said to ourselves that it was at home, that there was coach César Luis Menotti, that an effort had been made for this team.

It wasn't very, very bright.

But it was a first and it launched the enthusiasm of the Argentines for the World Cup.

Enthusiasm which was until then quite discreet.

Then, in 1986, it was a World Cup obviously very marked by Diego Maradona, with this victory against the English [

with two goals, including the famous "hand of God", Editor's note

].

It was Maradona at its best.

He was very young.

He was 25 years old.

It was a great memory.

In addition, Argentina had recently returned to democracy.

So the party was a little more complete.

There, this coronation comes after many disappointments, after almost crossing the desert.

Argentina, for 28 years, had not won any title, not even in South America.

The coronation in Copa America 2021 in Rio had aroused great enthusiasm.

And it was seen in the mobilization of supporters: they came from the other side of the planet to go to Qatar, in large numbers, despite a very harsh economic crisis.

So this coronation is really a relief.

And then Lionel Messi, who had often been decried, criticized in Argentina, after this victory in 2021 in Brazil, was again a kind of icon and everyone wanted him to go on a coronation in the World Cup.

I don't know if we can put this win ahead of the other two.

But, in any case, on an emotional level probably "yes".

Because in 1986, at the limit, there was perhaps less pressure than today.

Today, there was a huge pressure, a huge desire to do it.

We knew that Messi would not return.

So that weighed a lot in the course of this competition.

To (re) read ► 2022 World Cup: Lionel Messi, finally the lucky star

Lionel Messi is not going to escape the game of comparisons.

For you, with this coronation, does he become the best Argentine footballer in history, ahead of Diego Maradona?

This is a difficult debate to close.

In any case, in terms of trophies, he finished well ahead of Maradona because in clubs, Messi won many more [

36 major trophies in clubs, against 9 for Maradona, Editor's note

].

In the national team, he did the same, with a victory and a defeat in the final [

in 1990 for Maradona and in 2014 for Messi, Editor's note

].

In addition, he broke a lot of records: Messi is the top scorer in the history of the Argentina team in World Cups, he is the one who has played the most matches in World Cups... All this adds a little bit to this special dimension that Messi has acquired.

Afterwards, in the hearts of Argentines, I don't know what it is, because Maradona is Maradona (

laughs

).

Maybe it depends on the generations of Argentinians.

Me, I continue to have a soft spot for Maradona more than for Messi.

But if you had to compare them, I think it might be a little more different for the younger ones.

Is Lionel Messi simply the best player of all time, thanks to this victory?

I can't compare him to Pelé because I haven't seen Pelé play enough to be able to compare them.

That said, going for a World Cup at 35 that has eluded you for years, and this with a team that is less strong than the previous ones, especially the one that reached the final in 2014…

(He thinks)

I don't know.

Maybe yes ".

But we can no longer compare today's players to Pelé.

It was another football.

Pelé never left Brazil except at the end of his career.

And it's true that he won three World Cups.

But it was a World Cup that has nothing to do with today's [

there were 16 participating teams against 32, currently, in particular, Editor's note

].

So can we compare?

I do not believe.

I think that in modern football, as we conceive it, it will be very difficult to do better.

Well, after with seven Ballons d'Or for Messi, and maybe an eighth… Well, all that is crazy, all the same!

So I don't know but I tend to think "yes"...

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  • Soccer

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Source: rfi

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