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Argentina eliminated from the Under-20 World Cup: a football balance with the good and the bad of Mascherano


Highlights: Argentina lost 1-0 to Nigeria in the second round of the World Cup in Brazil. Coach Javier Mascherano will continue to be the coach of the U20 team. The AFA head Claudio Tapia intends to fulfill the contract signed for 4 years. Masche will be the one who directs the National Team in the Pre-Olympic of Venezuela in 2024, even if exact date of dispute. Argentina is a champion of the Sub 20 category with 7 World Cups, but did not reach the semifinals.

The defeat against Nigeria in the second round is a difficult blow to assimilate but the first reaction of the coach was to want to continue in charge.

The locker room was silent, immersed in sadness. Alejo Véliz, Juan Gauto and Agustín Giay couldn't stop crying. Nigeria had just struck the World Cup by eliminating Argentina and the cries of Africans could be heard everywhere. They sang and danced to the rhythm of an indigenous dance. Some were even encouraged to make gestures that were read as provocative.

In this context, Javier Mascherano came face to face with his leaders. "There is nothing to reproach yourself," he told them. It was his only message before leaving to explain to the press the reasons for a new, premature and painful defeat.

This is how the setback was experienced in San Juan: with few questions and blaming bad fortune. There was no atmosphere of failure, beyond the cries of the players. It is possible that the self-criticism will take place in the coming days, when the disappointment goes away.

The grief of the Argentine boys in San Juan. Photos: Emmanuel Fernández

But the feeling is unmistakable: Javier Mascherano will continue to be the coach of the U20, . For Claudio Tapia, the head of the AFA, in the World Cup the team left a different face to the one he showed in the South American and intends to fulfill the contract signed for 4 years. Even, Masche will be the one who directs the National Team in the Pre-Olympic of Venezuela in 2024, even if exact date of dispute.

It is true that there are things that were done well. Mascherano and his coaching staff refined the South American list and formed a squad with more hierarchy and balanced. In the first phase the team played well and showed good handling of different game modules. And the behavior of the boys in defeat is also noteworthy.

But there are other negative issues, of course. In the end, an elimination in the second round in a World Cup played in the country can not be taken as something positive.

Argentina fell when it faced a heavyweight opponent for the first time. Much more: the boys quickly went into despair after Nigeria's first goal in the 16th minute of the second half.

Argentina had time and chances to tie the game against Nigeria. Photo: Emmanuel Fernández.

Nor were the changes Mascherano proposed to face Nigeria, such as the departures of Soulé and Perrone, clear. Perhaps the win against New Zealand altered his plans. "We wanted to give continuity to the team that had played the last date of the group," explained the coach.

"In defeat you have to believe more than ever in your convictions. This is a learning experience for everyone. It hurts me that the boys didn't get the reward they deserved. We knew that at some point we were going to have a mismatch and we paid dearly. It's sad. We were the one who carried the weight of the game, we tried at all times. It's hard to explain when you lose, but in the game we were superior," Mascherano said.

The match against Nigeria happened just as Mascherano had warned the day before the match: with individual persecutions of the Africans all over the field. So what was the idea of Argentina?

"We looked for the player who had the ball to be the free one. That player had to provoke the jump of a rival to leave his mark free. And there you had to find it with a pass. At the beginning we went out a lot on the right with Tomás Avilés, which was where they matched us. We improved a lot when we understood that it was Valentín Gómez who had the superiority. There Luka Romero went down and the Colo Barco was free or vice versa. That's what we tried. Anyway, you don't have to ask 18-year-olds to see football as 50-year-olds," the coach replied.

Valentín Barco, part of the replacement of the Sub 20 with respect to the team that played the South American. Photo: Emmanuel Fernández.

There is a devastating statistic for Argentina, the most champion of the Sub 20 category with 7 titles: it did not reach the semifinals in the last 7 World Cups.

For Egypt 2009 and Turkey 2015, he did not qualify; in Colombia 2011, lost in the quarterfinals to Portugal; in New Zealand 2015 and South Korea 2017, he fell in the first round; in Poland 2019, they were defeated by Mali in the second round; in Argentina 2023, elimination against Nigeria in the second round.

"I could talk in depth about what we have to do, I don't remember how the other World Cups went. You have to understand that football has evolved and changed a lot, especially in the last 15 years. Before with the quality and hierarchy of the Argentine players reached and now we have to add much more content, "said Mascherano.

In the records will be a new blow of the Sub 20. Those to come should be days of deep analysis. Meanwhile, Mascherano takes a love he thought he didn't have. "It was beautiful what we lived these days. It's been a while since I had felt that way. Sometimes you have a misconception of people's affection. This was a caress to the soul", closed the coach.

San Juan. Special envoy.

See also

Argentina lost to Nigeria in San Juan and said goodbye too early to the Under-20 World Cup

Mascherano, after the elimination of the Sub 20: "Chiqui Tapia has my resignation available every day"

Under-20 World Cup: the controversial agonizing and penalty with which Italy eliminated England in the knockout stages in La Plata

Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-06-01

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