|Host nation: Qatar Date: November 20-December 18 Reporting: Reside on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Reside, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and BBC Sport web site and app. Daily TV listings – Full protection particulars|
Lionel Scaloni had been retired for a yr and felt an vacancy inside that was arduous to disregard. The previous West Ham defender missed soccer a lot that he was keen to name Son Caliu, the novice membership subsequent to his dwelling on the island of Mallorca, to say he was obtainable to work with their kids if they’d a place for him.
And so he did again in 2016. It was then, after a coaching session, that he heard the information that Lionel Messi had determined to retire from worldwide soccer. He could not consider it and determined to tweet an image of his ex-teammate at this yr’s Copa America ultimate with a determined message.
“This image says all of it… Do not go Lio,” he wrote.
Scaloni could not understand it on the time, however six years later he was engaged on his first World Cup as a coach, having been capable of carry out the perfect model of Messi for the South Individuals and finish a 28-year title drought with the 2021 Copa America trophy in Brazil. That was the start of “La Scaloneta”, because the staff has been nicknamed ever since. The 44-year-old coach is now the nation’s hottest man.
A lot in order that, even earlier than the marketing campaign in Qatar began with one stunning defeat in opposition to Saudi Arabia final Tuesday he has already had his contract renewed till 2026. The final Argentine coach to stay in cost after a World Cup was Marcelo Bielsa in 2002.
It’s a testomony to his immense reputation.
Though the opening match in Doha didn’t go in any respect as deliberate and has gone down as one of many largest World Cup upsets ever, all the staff and followers have blind religion of their coach.
“This christening in Qatar is stuffed with surprises for Messi and firm,” mentioned Argentine newspaper La Nacion after the Saudis’ beautiful win, but it surely will not damage their confidence what has been constructed by Scaloni – not but, anyway.
“If it is 10 within the morning and Scaloni says good night time to us, it is night time for us too,” Atletico Madrid midfielder Rodrigo de Paul mentioned.
Not like what occurred up to now, Messi and Co now have a look at the outlet and see certainly one of their very own. In the event that they bounce again from Tuesday’s defeat, negotiate their strategy to the knockout stage after which push to carry the trophy for the primary time since 1986, it is going to be much more essential.
“We now have a training workers with Scaloni and different former footballers equivalent to [Pablo] Aimer, [Roberto] Ayala and [Walter] “Samuel, who went by way of quite a bit with the Argentina shirt, is aware of what it represents and might go it,” former worldwide midfielder Lucho Gonzalez instructed BBC Sport.
“After which we now have a bunch that, you see very clearly, work with pleasure once they meet. We even have the perfect participant on the earth, however the staff makes him really feel good and doesn’t rely solely on him. That has been the important thing to this course of .”
“He’ll go to the bike World Cup, not the soccer”
Scaloni mania was in full swing in Argentina within the run-up to this World Cup, however no person might have predicted it when the person from the small village of Pujato was first appointed caretaker supervisor after the ill-fated Russia 2018 marketing campaign.
The criticism was such that even the legendary Diego Maradona mentioned then that the one World Cup he would go to was the motorcycling one, not the soccer one.
A reserved and down-to-earth individual, Scaloni listened to all that, however selected to not reply. Having labored as Jorge Sampaoli’s assistant in Sevilla after which adopted him to the nationwide staff in Russia, he couldn’t argue a lot about his lack of expertise. In spite of everything, two years earlier, he was nonetheless teaching youngsters in his neighborhood membership.
“We went to the 2006 World Cup collectively, however regardless of his extraordinary profession, I could not think about him turning into the supervisor he’s now,” recollects Lucho, who can also be beginning his teaching profession. “It is solely pure that he was a bit questioned to start with. The media did not know a lot about his capabilities, but it surely has turned out to be a really sensible transfer by the federation.
“I believe time has proven that when you do not focus an excessive amount of on the early outcomes, the processes work. And so they have.”
No separate tables in ‘La Scaloneta’
The sense in Argentina is that “La Scaloneta” has an awesome affinity, cast over a number of years. When Juventus midfielder Leandro Paredes celebrated his birthday in Ibiza final summer season, 13 members of the squad made the journey to be with him.
Scaloni has just one rule when they’re in camp: all gamers should sit on the identical desk and have the ability to look one another within the eye.
No marvel the Argentinians, in all probability for the primary time since 2006, actually consider they’ll win the World Cup. Not even the Saudi end result has modified that.
“Often it would not matter the way you get to those tournaments, however clearly getting there as one of many title contenders and with such an awesome ambiance will get the followers excited,” mentioned Lucho.
“It is a particular World Cup, our first with out Maradona, a person beloved by all Argentines, and particularly by me, who would all the time be there in these moments, however I’ve little doubt that he helps us from above.”
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