In Argentina’s first two matches at the World Cup (a 2-1 defeat by Saudi Arabia and a 2-0 victory over Mexico), coach Lionel Scaloni has already fielded 19 of the 26 players called up for the tournament.
Of all his offensive options, only three have not even had a minute on the field to justify their presence in Qatar-2022: Thiago Almada and Ángel Correa, who were only called up at the last minute because of cuts in the original list, in addition to Paulo Dybala .
No, you didn’t read that wrong, Dybala, one of the most recognized Argentine soccer players on the international scene, is in the Cup. It just doesn’t seem like it.
And it is unlikely that this situation will have a big change in today’s match against Poland, starting at 4 pm (Brasília time), in Doha, which will define Argentina’s future in the most important football competition on the planet.
At the age of 29, Dybala, who has already been chosen as the star of the Italian Championship (2019/20), won a Calcio top scorer award (2016/17), played in the 2018 Russia World Cup and was on lists of candidates for the position of best of the planet, is experiencing a moment of recovery of protagonism in Roma.
In 12 games for Portuguese coach José Mourinho’s team this season, the striker has already scored seven times. The average of 0.58 goals per match is simply the highest in the Argentine’s entire career.
The problem is that, for the national team, the number 21 never did anything that would justify a more frequent presence in the lineups. Even playing for Argentina seven years ago, he has only scored three goals for the national team so far.
The player’s most famous passage through the national team wasn’t even a play on the field, but an interview that had a lot of repercussions. In 2017, he stated that it was “difficult to play alongside Lionel Messi” because he has similar characteristics to the star of the greatest scorer in the country’s history.
Despite having already tested Messi and Dybala together on a few occasions, mainly at the beginning of his work, Scaloni seems to have convinced himself that the Roma player’s words were correct and made him an immediate reserve for the number 10.
But this situation practically closed the doors for the attacker. After all, there are very few situations in which the South American team can afford to give up their number one star, to rest him or test another tactical formation. In the World Cup, this has not even come close to happening.
The victory over Mexico, in the last round, even gave Argentina a certain respite in the World Cup and prevented it, for example, from being eliminated early. Even so, the situation of Messi and co. in Group C is far from comfortable.
To make sure they go to the round of 16 without depending on the other result of the last round of the qualifying phase, the albiceleste team needs to defeat Poland. In the event of a tie, they will also have to root for an equal score between Saudi Arabia and Mexico or for a Mexican triumph by a maximum of two goals apart.
The Qatar Cup is the first to be held in the Middle East and features seven of the eight teams that have already lifted the cup. For the second consecutive edition, four-time champion Italy failed to qualify and is low.
The tournament is being played at the end of the year, and not in its usual period (June and July), because of the heat in the host country during the height of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.
This is the last edition of the FIFA competition with the format that has been used for 24 years, since France-1998. From the next World Cup, organized by the United States, Canada and Mexico, there will be 48 participants in the dispute for the title.
World Cup – Group C
22/11 – Argentina 1 x 2 Saudi Arabia, Iconic, in Lusail
22/11 – Mexico 0 x 0 Poland, 974, in Doha
26/11 – Poland 2 x 0 Saudi Arabia, Education City, in Al-Rayyan
26/11 – Argentina 2 x 0 Mexico, Iconic, in Lusail
Today – Poland v Argentina, 974, in Doha
Today – Saudi Arabia vs Mexico, Iconic, in Lusail