The last months between Lautaro Martínez and Julián Álvarez were crossed by bidding and respect. It all started in Qatar, when the Inter Milan attacker did not arrive well from the physical and the Manchester City won the position based on goals and great performances.
"I didn't arrive as expected, I was playing with my ankle injected with painkillers. Then a teammate came in who did better than me and I'm very happy. I gave everything, even from the outside," confessed the striker born in Bahía Blanca. Now, what is in contention between the two world champion strikers is neither more nor less than the Champions League title.
"For now I did not speak with Lautaro or with Tucu Correa, who I saw that he said something. Surely we will send messages in these days. They are two great people and players and I am proud of what they are achieving, but a final is coming and we hope to win, "warned the Spider.
I spoke with Julian to invite him to my wedding; of the final, nothing, "said the Bull.
Lautaro Martinez, captain of Inter. Photo: EFE
Martinez and Alvarez will have different roles in Istanbul. The former Racing will start and captain at Inter, while the former River will await his place on the bench. Even one possibility is that he does not add minutes because Pep Guardiola is not a coach who makes massive modifications.
The striking fact is that Lautaro (25 years old) and Julian (23) will play against them for the first time. By the time the Spider debuted in River, in October 2018, the Bull had already emigrated to Italy. They then joined the National Team, where they share a very good relationship and have played together only four games. The rest to note is that both scored in the semifinals of the tournament: Martínez against Milan, Álvarez against Real Madrid.
The statistics of the Scaloneta forwards are shocking. Martínez accumulates in his career 357 matches (Racing, Inter, Senior Team and Youth Team) with 157 goals, while Álvarez has 206 duels (River, Manchester City, Senior Team and Youth Team) with 81 goals.
Julián Álvarez, in the recognition of the stadium. Photo: EFE
Undoubtedly, Martínez and Álvarez are the strikers of the present and the future in the National Team. Both could play the next two World Cups, in 2026 and in 2030. Whether or not they can complement each other in the same team remains to be seen because, it is repeated, they only shared minutes in four games.
But the feelings are positive: both are used to playing with another attacker. Lautaro does it with Edin Dzeko or Romelu Lukaku and Álvarez sometimes plays with Erling Haaland.
An extra fact is that the one who finishes victorious in Istanbul will also become the 12th man to conquer in the same season the World Cup and the main club tournament in Europe.
The Germans Sepp Maier, Paul Breitner, Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck, Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller, Uli Hoeness and Jupp Kapellmann won the World Cup in their country in 1974 and the old Champions Cup.
Already in times of the renewed Champions League, four Real Madrid players achieved it: the French Christian Karembeu in 1998, the Brazilian Roberto Carlos in 2002, the also German Sami Khedira in 2014 and the French Raphaël Varane in 2018.
Companions and champions. Julián Álvarez and Lautaro at the Qatar World Cup. Photo: AFP
"I feel proud of all the work I'm doing with my teammates. And wearing the ribbon of this club in these instances is a prize, "said the former Racing player after achieving the pass to the final. And he added: "World Cup and Champions League are the two most important finals that a player can play. You only change the shirt and then the sensations are the same: unique. We are in the last step, we must be ready, it will be important for all the fans, the team and the club."
"I remember a game in the United States, against America I think it was. Julian had only two training sessions and I said 'This guy is special'. He's had a fantastic season. He has renewed his contract, he will be here for a few years I hope he is happy," Guardiola praised the Spider in an interview with ESPN.
The ball will roll in Istanbul on Saturday from 16 and a couple of hours later there will be a winner. And a world champion in Qatar, Julian Alvarez or Lautaro Martinez, will have the joy of lifting another heavy trophy in the dream season.