After third World Cup, Scaloni keeps doors open to Messi for 2026

After third World Cup, Scaloni keeps doors open to Messi for 2026

Before the Qatar Cup, Lionel Messi announced that this would be the fifth and last World Cup of his career. After leading Argentina to win the third world championship this Sunday (18), could the striker go back on his plans and compete in the 2026 edition (United States, Mexico and Canada), at the age of 39? If it depends on coach Lionel Scaloni, the number 10 shirt will be assured to him.After third World Cup, Scaloni keeps doors open to Messi for 2026

“We need to save a place for him. If he wants to keep playing, we have to keep his shirt. He doesn’t have any spikes. [a ser aparada] with our selection. It’s just pleasure and pride to have you with us. What Messi conveys to his teammates is impressive. He is very influential”, said Scaloni in a press conference after the decision, also revealing a conversation with the Argentine star before the World Cup, which gave him confidence for what was to come in Qatar.

“We were transmitting something very strong to the Argentines. People were very excited, expecting a lot from us. What if it doesn’t work? And Leo replied: ‘So what? Keep going. It will be right. If not, nothing happens’. His answer brought me the certainty that something was being done very well”, he recalled.

This Sunday’s final was dramatic, with the Argentines opening 2-0 over France in the first half, with Messi and Ángel Di Maria scoring the net. In the final stage, when the duel seemed to be controlled by the brothers, two goals in a two-minute interval (at 34 and 36), both scored by fellow striker Kylian Mbappé, put the French back in the fray. In overtime, Messi scored the third for the South Americans, but Mbappé left everything the same again. On penalties, victory by 4 to 2 and third world championship for Argentina.

The conquest crowns a work started in 2018, after the Russian Cup, at first on an interim basis, in place of Jorge Sampaoli. Embraced by the players, Scaloni – who was having his first experience as a coach, after working as an assistant at Sevilla (Spain) and in the national team – was confirmed in the position. In 2019, he led a rebuilding Argentina to third place in the Copa America, eliminated by hosts Brazil in the semifinals. The change came two years later, again in Brazilian territory, with the Albiceleste team’s first title after 28 years, relieving the pressure on the group that, this Sunday, lifted the World Cup in Qatar.

“These players [da seleção] play for the argentinian fans. There is no ego, individualities, one wanting to climb on top of the other. There is no greater pride than playing for our country. It’s brilliant to see how this team won the title, understanding what needed to be done on the pitch. We played a complete game and were champions”, highlighted the coach.

“The team did well, with optimism in hand. [Após o empate da França] we knew we would have occasions [para marcar gols] And that’s what happened [na prorrogação]🇧🇷 When [o jogo] goes to penalties, we had complete confidence in our goalkeeper [Emiliano Martínez], all of the cast sending a lot of strength, a lot of faith. When we made the list of takers, it was great to see players offering to hit. It inspires confidence,” added Scaloni.

The Argentine coach, finally, was asked how Diego Armando Maradona, who died in November 2020, would be celebrating the cup won this Sunday: “We are a warrior country. I hope he’s enjoying it up there. He would certainly be here, as a fan. I really wish he was. He would have enjoyed it very much”.

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