The mythical stadium of Buenos Aires may be called the Monumental, but it could never have contained the more than 1.5 million people who tried to acquire a place in line to attend the big return to the field of the the Argentinian team, crowned with its title of world football champion acquired in Qatar in December 2022.
Eighty-three thousand privileged people were finally able to vibrate together, on March 23, 2023, during a friendly match against Panama which above all served as a pretext to celebrate the third star of Albiceleste, even if the opponents of the day have long threatened to upset the party by putting up a fine sporting resistance.
The young midfielder of Atlanta United (United States) Thiago Almada, who had only played a few minutes at the World Cup, released in the 78e minute the Argentinians, before the inevitable Lionel Messi finished the ball with a sumptuous direct free kick (89e), son 800e goal in 1,017 professional matches (2-0).
“Let’s take advantage of this”
The players gathered in a joyful round in the center of the field were then able to “relive Lusail” – the name of the stadium and the city where the final won against France took place – and once again, Messi was given the trophy in hand, in a stadium capsizing with happiness.
“Let’s enjoy this, this third star. It’s very difficult to win a World Cup.”Messi said into the microphone from the pitch, saying “don’t forget all the players with whom we tried to lift this Cup without succeeding” in previous editions.
For the Albiceleste, this return to an Argentine lawn was the first real communion with their “hinchada” since the aborted parade of December 20, when the excess (4 to 5 million on the bus route) had forced the parade to be aborted. victory, finished… in helicopters.
Beatiful smiles like Messi, tears in the eye for goalkeeper “Dibu” Martinez or coach Lionel Scaloni, the world champions, their children by their side, heard the Monumental sing before the match boysthe song that has become the anthem of Argentine supporters at the World Cup, and forever associated with the 2022 title.
The pre-match had been a long celebration of more than four hours with concerts, fireworks, replay of images from the World Cup, and an incessant succession of songs to the glory of the team or players.
Family lap of honor
Did the part really matter? She saw an outrageous domination of the Argentines against Panamanians braced in defense, but disciplined and not clumsy. Clearly not here to watch the champions play, even if they could only get one shot on target.
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The Panamanian, 61e in the FIFA rankings, also lined up a second team, coach Thomas Christiansen – who had delegated an assistant to Buenos Aires – having announced that he was concentrating on an important match for his team against Costa Rica on Tuesday in the Nations League of Concacaf.
Alternately MacAllister, Fernandez, Messi, Di Maria, made the Panamanian goalkeeper José Guerra shine, when the latter was not saved by his amount on a chance from Messi. It was another amount, on another free kick from Messi, who returned the ball to Almada, deceiving Guerra with a cross shot for the first goal of the match, before the candy from the Argentine number 10 which sealed the success of the day.
“It was a very good test and a taste of what awaits us”Scaloni said at the final whistle. “All will come to us now with the intention of not being beaten, of making things complicated for us. »
The party ended with a lap of honor for the players accompanied by their wives and children. After Panama, it will be the turn of the small Caribbean island (160,000 inhabitants) of Curacao on Tuesday, 86e FIFA, to serve as a friendly foil to the Albiceleste, in the provinces this time, in Santiago del Estero (north).