World Cup 2022, Poland-Argentina 0-2: Messi in the round of 16

Goals from Mac Allister and Alvarez decide at Stadium 974 in Doha. Szczesny & Co. go through on goal difference

L’Argentina he makes no mistake and continues on his way ai World Cup 2022. In the third round of Group C the team of Scaloni beats Poland 2-0closes the group in first place and flies to the round of 16, where he will have to deal with theAustralia. At Stadium 974 in Doha in the first half the Albiceleste makes the match, but slams against Szczesny, good at saving even a penalty from Messi (39′). Then in the second half MacAllister (46′) unlocks the game with a right footed turn e Alvarez (68′) closes the accounts with a great goal. Poland in the round of 16 from second thanks to the goal difference: he will play with the France.

THE MATCH
One step at a time in the right direction. Argentina’s journey in Qatar continues in the best possible way after the shock debut at the World Cup. And the convincing victory against Poland is an encouraging sign for Scaloni. Encouraging because he brings the Albiceleste without difficulty to the round of 16 from before the round and because he does it tactically adjusting the team with a few changes. Substitutions that have given more balance, leg and dynamism to the advanced department, but also more solidity and lucidity in the median. Apart from Messi’s missed penalty, Argentina brought home only positive news from the match against Poland. Both from De Paul, Fernandez and Mac Allister, tough in duels and ready to insert themselves, and from Alvarez, the perfect offensive terminal for vertical pocketing by Leo & Co. Di Maria is still missing from the appeal, it’s true. But Fideo did something good against Poland and his qualities could be decisive in the knockout stage. As for Lewa & Co. instead, despite the centered eighths, the impression is with the Albiceleste that fear reigned supreme. Fear of daring, of trying and leaving the tournament. All justified, please. But that doesn’t go very far.

For the big match against Argentina, Michniewicz leaves Milik on the bench and shows up with Swiderski next to Lewandowski. In search of new solutions and more wickedness, Scaloni instead rejects Lautaro and relies on the Di Maria-Messi-Alvarez trident. With Fernandez in the control room, at the start the Albiceleste tries to immediately take possession and maneuver, but Poland closes the lines, lowers and plays only throw-in leaning on Lewa. On the one hand, Otamendi misses the goal with his header, Messi commits Szczesny and Acuna shoots high from a good position, on the other hand, the only dangerous action is from Bielik, but his left foot crashes against the Argentine defence. At a good pace, but with little space, the match gets stuck on the Polish frontline and the bunker built by Michniewicz holds up. Served by Molina, Alvarez turned on goal with his left foot, but Glik & Co. saved themselves. Then a diagonal from Acuna goes wide and Di Maria tries directly from a corner. Under pressure, the Albiceleste revs up and accelerates, but has to deal with Szczesny. Surrounded and under pressure, the Juve goalkeeper in fact does not break down and keeps everything in balance first by opposing a close-range attempt by Alvarez, then by saving a penalty from Messi for a dubious touch in the area. Intervention which, together with another save on Alvarez, brings Poland to the locker room at 0-0 and keeps everything in the balance.

Balance broken immediately at the start of the second half by Mac Allister, good at right-footed a perfect cross from Molina. Shot that surprises the Polish rearguard, unlocks the match and ignites the race. With Kaminski and Skoras replacing Frankowski and Swiderski, Michniewicz’s team tries to raise the center of gravity a bit, but it’s still Argentina that keeps the ball in hand and manages possession. After a venomous header from Glik, Mac Allister goes close to scoring twice, then it’s up to Alvarez to place the knockout blow that secures the result with a perfect mix of quality and power. Goal that secures first place in the group for Argentina and forces Poland to transform the end of the match into careful management of the interventions to avoid collecting other goals and crucial yellow cards in the long-distance battle with Mexico over fair play for the pass of the turn. Szczesny again opposes Messi, then a right foot from Alvarez ends up on the outside of the net and Lautaro Martinez devours the set after a mistake by Kiwior. An error that the defender of Spezia then makes up for in the final avoiding the goal that would have condemned Lewa and his companions together with Szczesny. After the misstep with Saudi Arabia, Argentina is growing, winning and looking ahead. Poland, on the other hand, trembles until the last minute and passes, but will have to deal with France in the round of 16.

THE TABLE
POLAND-ARGENTINA 0-2

Poland (4-4-2): Szczesny 7.5; Cash 5.5, Glik 6, Kiwior 6, Bereszynski 5.5 (27′ st Jedrzejczyk 5.5); Zielinski 5, Krychowiak 5.5 (38′ st Piatek sv), Bielik 6 (17′ st Szymanski 5.5), Frankowski 5 (1′ st Kaminski 5.5); Swiderski 5 (1′ st Skoras 5.5), Lewandowski 5.5.
Available: Skorupski, Grabara, Wieteska, Bednarek, Milik, Szymanski, Grosicki, Zurkowski, Zalewski, Gumny. All.: Michniewicz 5.5
Argentina (4-3-3): Emiliano Martinez 6; Molina 6.5, Otamendi 6, Romero 6, Acuna 6 (14′ st Tagliafico 6.5); De Paul 6.5, Fernandez 6.5 (34′ st Pezzella sv), Mac Allister 7 (38′ st Almada sv); Di Maria 6 (14′ st Paredes 6), Messi 5.5, Alvarez 7 (34′ st Lautaro Martinez sv).
Available: Armani, Rulli, Foyth, Montiel, Palacios, Correa, Gomez, Guido, Dybala, Lisandro Martinez. All.: Stairs 6.5
Referee: Makkelie
Scorers: 1’st Mac Allister (A), 23’st Alvarez (A)
Ammonites: Krychowiak (P); Acuna (A)
Expelled:
Note: 39′ Szczesny (P) saves a penalty from Messi (A)
Recovery: 4′ + 6′

THE STATISTICS
• Argentina qualified from the group stage of the World Cup for the fifth consecutive tournament (2006, 2010, 2014, 2018 and 2022).
• Alexis Mac Allister’s (45:53) was the fastest goal in a second half at a World Cup since Agger’s own goal in the Netherlands-Denmark in 2010 (45:32).
• Alexis Mac Allister became the 61st Argentine player to score at the World Cup, Julián Álvarez the 62nd, with only Brazil (83) and Germany (77) having more different goalscorers in the tournament (60 for Italy).
• Wojciech Szczesny is only the third goalkeeper (since 1966) to save two penalties in a single World Cup edition (excluding the penalty lottery), after Brad Friedel in 2002 and Jan Tomaszewski in 1974.
• Wojciech Szczesny is only the second goalkeeper (since 1966) to save a World Cup penalty after causing it, after Joel Bats for France against Brazil in 1986.
• Excluding the penalty lottery Lionel Messi has missed two penalties at the World Cup (one scored), only Ghanaian Asamoah Gyan has missed as many since 1966 (4 kicked, 2 scored).
• Lionel Messi played in his 22nd World Cup match, overtaking Diego Maradona (21) as the most capped Argentinian in the competition’s history.
• Enzo Fernandez, aged 21 years and 317 days, is the youngest player to start a World Cup match for Argentina since Lionel Messi in 2006 (18 years and 362 days).

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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