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Finalissima 2022. Match report and reaction.

After 29 years of being in the shadow this rematch between UEFA and Conmebol of the Artemio Franchi Cup was a spectacle. Believed to be a friendly in some corners of fandom across the world that prediction was put to bed by a thrilling game in the stadium home to football, Wembley. It must be said the fact that Italy failed once again to qualify for the 2022 Qatar World Cup helped matters as it was believed they had a point to prove to their own fanbase as well as football fans from across the world.

As a neutral at Wembley one thing I could not help but notice was the amount of Argentina fans who made the long journey to London. It seemed as if 80% of the stadium was made up of voicerous Argentinian fans which made for a brilliant atmosphere from the very get go. Regarded by some as the best player ever, when Messi emerged from the tunnel for the pre game warm up the reception by the fans was something I have never experienced as a football fan before with the fans worshipping the player. If Messi spearheads Argentina to glory at Qatar 2022 will he be held in the same regard as the great Diego Maradona?

From the start the game had a quick tempo with Argentina almost immediately applying the pressure. On 28 minutes that pressure was rewarded with Messi shrugging off Italy right back Giovanni Di Lorenzo before cutting the ball back on the line for a simple Lautaro Martinez tap in. Just before half time Argentina doubled their lead with Martinez escaping Bonucci’s clutch on the halfway line before sending Di Maria through on goal where he produced a trademark chip over the onrushing Donnarumma. Roberto Macnini made changes in the second half but that did not change the sway of the game with Messi having numerous chances to put the game to bed and would have done were it not for his PSG team mate Donnarumma. That was the case in added time though with substitute Dybala superbly finding the bottom corner from another Messi assist. The game could be summed up by the fact Argentina completed 17 shots to Italy’s 7 which was disappointing for an Italy team coming off the back of a very successful Euro 2020 campaign.

After the game Italy manager Roberto Macini reiterated that youth will be getting more chances in the future but large parts of the Italy fanbase were unhappy with Manicnis selection and calls for his resignation were only ignited more after the failure for World Cup qualification. The team selection for this game was interesting to say the least with players such as Pessina, Bernadeshi and Emerson all starting even though they had noy played a great deal for their respective clubs in the 2021-22 season. There is hope however with players such as Tonali, Bastoni and Raspadori all coming through the ranks showing in the future Italy may be a force once again . Another dismal performance by the Azzurri in a 5-2 loss to Germany in the Nations League does not help Mancicnis cause though.

Meanwhile a dominant Argentina side have only consolidated their place as one of the favourites for the 2022 Qatar World Cup. Manager Scaloni has managed to find a real balance within the Argentina squad that past managers such as Jorge Sampoali have struggled to do. With an aggressive defence and quick, creative attack this side looks like one from the great Argentinian past in the 70s and 80s. A deep squad means that no players are guaranteed a spot for the World Cup except for the man of the match captain of Lionel Messi. For once in Messi’s Argentina career he seems to have a team behind him working together!

With Qatar 2022 fast approaching this game showed that Europe and South America still have the best football teams in the World. It would be a fitting sending off for Lionel Messi if he managed to win the World Cup in Qatar with his beloved Albiceleste and who would bet against it after this performance?

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