Tonhey start Lost to Saudi Arabia, one of the least popular teams in the World Cup. The Argentinian footballers beat defending champions France in a thrilling 3-3 penalty shootout to win the title. When Gonzalo Montiel brought home the decisive penalty, millions of Argentines flooded Avenida 9 de Julio in central Buenos Aires, setting off firecrackers, singing songs and honking car horns. pull chooseknown as the national team, brought home Argentina’s third trophy and first in 36 years.
Argentina expected and finally got a tight game. When France lifted the World Cup in 2018, they had younger teams and more expensive players than any other. Kylian Mbappé, then 19, became the second youngest player to score in a World Cup final after Pélé in 1958 at 17. This year, France is worth more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in total, while Argentina is worth even more. According to transfer fee website Transfermarkt, 645 million euros is not much.
However Argentina ended up leading 2-0 and then 3-2. Mr Mbappe brought France back into the game with a penalty and a goal in normal play, then scored another penalty in extra time to become just the second player to score three goals in a World Cup final people. But the glory will belong to Argentina’s 35-year-old captain, Lionel Messi, who has never won the sport’s most coveted trophy despite being widely regarded as the world’s best player for years. Fittingly, Mr Messi scored both goals and added another for the team, scored with the fluid movement of Ángel Di María, Di María Leah calmly finished the shot and burst into tears.
Argentine fans have turned this World Cup into their country and their captain. Some 50,000 Argentine supporters flocked to Doha to watch the final, compared with just 10,000 from the richer and more populous country of France.Argentina Hinchas, or fans, are known for being rough. They can write new football songs almost as fast as Mr Messi can dribble through three opposing players, and with drums, giant flags with national alabaster white and sky blue stripes, and 500 kilograms of weight. Yerba Matethe country’s most popular herbal drink.
The final settled all arguments, the Argentine crow, about who is the greatest footballer. However, Mr Messi has had a misfit with his home country, which he left at the age of 13 to train in Europe. Compared with the previous generation of Argentine midfield superstar Diego Maradona, Messi, who needs growth hormone injections since childhood, has long been considered timid and lacking in passion. Maradona (who died in 2020) was overheard in 2016 saying Mr Messi “didn’t have enough personality to be a leader”. The Argentine is unhappy with the fact that he often wins with his Spanish club Barcelona rather than with the national team. With Mr Macy at the helm, choose Lost twice in the final of the Copa America, Latin America’s top football competition, and once in the final of the World Cup. In desperation, he briefly retired from the national team in 2016.
That all changed last year when Argentina won the Copa America for the first time in 28 years. Since then, Messi mania has swept the country. His T-shirt with the number 10 has become the national team uniform. His tone became aggressive. Clips of Mr Messi asking Dutch striker Wout Weghorst: “What are you looking at, stupid?” They were remixed to electronic dance music, printed on Mugs and tattoos on superfans.
In Argentina, the beautiful game is more than just a sport. “When they ask who you are, you answer: I’m a son, I’m a father, I belong to a certain team,” says football journalist Ariel Scher. “Building an identity in this country is unthinkable without some connection to football.”
After Argentina beat England in the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, football and national identity intertwined and Maradona scored two goals, one famously beautiful and the other— – a handball that went unnoticed by the referee – has annoyed British football fans for a generation. After Argentina suffered a humiliating defeat in its invasion of the British territory of the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic, many felt like it was a moment of national defense. For some, Maradona became a demigod. A sect called the Church of Maradona has thousands of followers, its own Ten Commandments and a new branch in Mexico.
If football is a religion in Argentina, then the World Cup victory is its spiritual apotheosis – and it came at a moment of national anguish. Argentina has been hit this year by a record drought, 100% inflation and an unmanageable political situation. Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner survived an assassination attempt when a gun was held inches from her face without firing; Sentenced to six years in prison for a corruption scandal.
Against this chaotic backdrop, the national team spread joy, even temporary harmony.ingrained gritaThe Argentine politics, or rift, between Ms Fernandez’s followers and the liberal opposition has not been forgotten. But after Ms Fernandez’s conviction on Dec. 6, her supporters remained uncharacteristically silent, perhaps because they were watching a ball game at home. Parliament has struggled to achieve a quorum to convene, partly because some lawmakers are in Doha.
“The World Cup fever helped the government end what could have been a fairly peaceful year,” said Argentine political scientist Andrés Malamud at the University of Lisbon. Prepare, they can’t count on fond memories of the World Cup to save them. “All the research on the impact of sports victories on elections shows that they are short-lived — they don’t last longer than two weeks.”
Still, Argentina’s political class can learn from its athletes. The team is tighter than in previous World Cups, says historian Claus Gallo, who has written about football at the University of Stolcuato di Terra in Buenos Aires. Mr. Messi’s light is not only because of his talent, but also because he can rely on the people around him. The country’s divided government, with months of silence from a moderate president and a leftist vice president, could draw attention.Opposition can also, sometimes incite grita at the expense of mediation.
Like some Argentines once mocked Mr Messi, Argentine politicians have a habit of destroying their best assets. Ms Fernandez and her largely left-wing Peronism (the populist movement that has dominated Argentina for seven decades) have denigrated Argentina’s agribusiness and more generally the private sector, even though these are the engine of the country’s economy. Argentina’s political class can learn from the country’s belated embrace of their star midfielder – and if you get it, be grateful.
The final lesson comes from Mr. Macy and Selected Humble manager, Lionel Scaloni. “In the past five World Cups, Argentina have done better under a manager who is humble and focused on planning,” said Mr Malamud. “And they get along badly with managers who like to show and brag.” The braggadocio was Maradona in 2010, who was a bad coach despite being a good player, and Howard in 2018. Helsangpaoli. The hard workers are Jose Pekerman in 2006, Alejandro Sabella in 2014 and Mr Scaloni.
The prudence and professionalism of the Argentine manager and his star players stands in stark contrast to the amateurishness with which to manage the Argentine economy, which has more than a dozen exchange rates and an array of price and currency controls. Argentina’s political leaders talked of a good game but failed to deliver results. Not like the soft-spoken, ruthlessly focused Mr. Macy on target.■