by the envoy Tullio Giannotti
Argentina is just him, Leo Messi. Who scores a goal that is like a flash in the dark, then gives Fernandez the ball for 2-0 and saves his national team from the abyss. Scaloni’s men see the witches for a while, the defeat on the first day against Saudi Arabia they carry on their shoulders with difficulty. Mexico beats and chases, little else, but enough to stop the current Argentina.
Not for Leo Messi, who after another 19′ of a second half as bad as the first, loses patience and takes the first shot on goal. It’s a goal from him, designer. Then, he offers Fernandez the double-up ball. Argentina is safe, at least for the moment, because now all 4 teams in group C are playing qualification in the third round. And Argentina will have to contend with Poland, who are leading with 4 points.
The match had been edgy and without real chances in the first half. Scaloni’s Argentina showed up with a 5-3-2 formation, Messi and Lautaro up front with Di Maria supporting them just behind. The Mexico of ‘Tata’ Martino is mirrored, with Lozano and Vega tips. It starts with fouls with Orsato who always watches closely and concedes nothing to the more exuberant players: already in the 5th minute a foul by Vega on Montiel who takes a few minutes to get up.
The Mexicans are faster and annoy the close exchanges of the Argentines with their pressing, who fail in their web of passes. Argentina imposes, Mexico replies and goes to physical confrontation with the ball carrier as soon as possible. In the 28th minute it was Alvarez who remained down due to a foul by Acuna. 2′ from the end of the half, Montiel booked for a foul on Gutierreza, then Martinez saved from Vega’s free kick. The first half ended with 16 fouls which held back the take-off of a tough match without a show. Argentina has never shot on goal.
Shooting on the same canvas as the first half, fragmented game, fouls, nervousness and zero chances. Gradually, however, Argentina managed to establish themselves in the opposing half of the field, although without being able to break through. Like a bolt from the blue, in the 19th minute, Leo Messi’s solo takes his hands and decides the match: the “Pulce” is outside the area, centrally positioned 20 meters from the goal. It is there that Di Maria finds him with a pass that allows him the best number of him: ball on the left and a shot on the blade of grass out of Ochoa’s reach.
Mexico does not react, Argentina leaves him the initiative but Martino’s men are unable to concoct dangerous actions. Herrera was pardoned by Orsato for a foul on Palacios which could have meant a second yellow card. In the 42nd minute, Messi finds Enzo Fernandez who enters the Mexican area and shoots with his right foot to return by inserting the ball into the corner where Ochoa cannot reach. It couldn’t have been a spectacular game, Argentina showed signs of recovery only in the second half, the first was rejected without appeal. For tonight, after the lightning in Lusail Stadium, stand. And more than ever clinging to Leo Messi.