They came to see their king and he was not disappointed. Three weeks before his 35th birthday but still as influential as ever, he inspired Lionel Messi Argentina To beat Italy at ‘Finalissima’ at Wembley, which was definitely up to all the hype.
Billed as a showdown between the European and South American champions and played for the first time since 1993, there was only one winner in Giorgio Chiellini’s last international appearance as Lionel Scaloni’s side stretched their unbeaten run to 32 matches. A former defender, Scaloni spent half a season on loan at West Ham in 2006 under Alan Pardew, and with Messi pulling the strings from an even deeper position, it’s clear he has assembled a squad that should be considered a true World Cup contender. later this year.
It has been nearly 30 years since Argentina beat Denmark on penalties to lift what was then known as the Artemio Franchi Cup after the former UEFA president. France won the first edition in 1985, with the match reviving “as part of the expanded cooperation between UEFA and CONMEBOL” signed in February 2020 between the two governing bodies as a direct challenge to FIFA’s growing dominance. However, while South American teams are also expected to appear in the Nations League after 2024, this was an opportunity for Italy to at least partially compensate for their disappointment. Not qualifying for the World Cup After losing to North Macedonia in a playoff match.
There were no such problems for Argentina, who managed to qualify for Qatar undefeated after ending their 28-year wait to be crowned South American champions. Messi received a fantastic reception when he showed up to warm up before the game and pretty much every time he got close to the ball after that. Tickets for this match sold out in less than a week and there was a festive atmosphere as the 37-year-old Chiellini played the Italian national anthem with his usual fervor for the last time before kick-off.
Returning to the site of his side’s victory over England last summer, Roberto Mancini was dressed as elegantly as ever in a sharp gray suit as he watched Angel Di Maria try his luck from inside his own half just 45 seconds later, much to Messi’s annoyance. The Italia The coach has vowed to rebuild the Azzurri after they missed a second consecutive World Cup, but there were many familiar faces in his starting lineup here, not least Chiellini and his former defensive partner Leonardo Bonucci. After appearing to negotiate a quick start for their opponents, Italy started to create chances but were held back by a piece of Messi’s magic at the other end.
A grandiose bend left a desperate Giovanni Di Lorenzo trailing in his wake before Lautaro Martinez slashed a volley across the face of the goal into the far corner. Gianluigi Donnarumma couldn’t do anything about Argentina’s second at the end of the first half either because Di Maria ended a quick breakup with Martinez to leave Italy with a mountain to climb.
Chiellini’s race ended at the break as Mancini made three substitutions in an effort to stem the tide. Donnarumma gave his best and almost gave Argentina a third when he took his eye off a back pass after an hour but managed to recover in time.
With his side increasingly outplayed, the Italy goalkeeper kept the score low with excellent saves from Di Maria and Messi on more than one occasion, while Giovanni Lo Celso should have made the score more certain from a tight angle. Substitute Paulo Dybala finally did in stoppage time after another round of lung explosion from you know who.