South American giants Argentina have booked their spot in the final of the ongoing 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar to be played on Sunday, 18 December.
La Albiceleste defeated Croatia in the semi-finals 3-0, to secure their second World Cup final showdown in the space of eight years.
The two-time world champions are waiting to see who they will face in the final: Morocco or defending champions France.
Team captain Lionel Messi has received the majority of the credit for Argentina’s performance in the tournament so far. The 35-year-old forward has registered five goals and three assists.
Alongside Messi’s impressive displays for Argentina, there are a few whose contributions have flown under the radar. As such, this article will take a look at three of them.
#3 Alexis Mac Allister
One of the surprise packages for Argentina at the 2022 FIFA World Cup has been Brighton midfielder Alexis Mac Allister.
The 23-year-old is the least well-known of Lionel Scaloni’s midfield options in Qatar. He has, however, given a very good account of himself at the ongoing World Cup.
Mac Allister was among a few tactical changes made to the Argentine starting XI after their disappointing opening Group C game against Saudi Arabia. Since then, he has started every game for La Albiceleste.
His presence in midfield has been key to both Argentina’s offensive and defensive performances, notably in games against Poland, the Netherlands, and Croatia.
Alexis Mac Allister plays with Lionel Messi and his father played with Diego Maradona. Blessed
Mac Allister combines well with left-back Marcos Acuna (or Nicolás Tagliafico) on the left flank. His versatility means he can also drop deep to cover for Enzo Fernandez at the base of the midfield during games.
He scored his only goal of the competition during Argentina’s last group game against Poland, which secured their qualification to the Round of 16.
#2 Julian Alvarez
Not many would have envisaged a young and relatively inexperienced Julian Alvarez to lead the attack for Argentina at the World Cup. Especially with Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez in the squad.
However, the 22-year-old Manchester City forward has stepped up at crucial moments when his team needed him the most.
Despite having to wait until Argentina’s third game to make his first start in the competition, Alvarez has already scored four goals in the tournament. He is currently Albiceleste’s second-top scorer in Qatar, a goal shy of Messi (five).
The Manchester City forward found the back of the net against Poland and Australia, and scored a spectacular brace against Croatia in the semi-final.
Despite playing his 1st #FIFAWorldCup, only 6 Argentina players have scored more goals in the competition’s history than Julian Alvarez (4)
Alvarez is in the running for the Golden Boot award for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar as only two players have scored more goals than him so far, Kylian Mbappe and team captain Messi.
#1 Lionel Scaloni
The Argentinian head coach has also been an unsung hero for his country en route to the final of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Lionel Scaloni has been able to mastermind a dramatic turnaround of Argentina’s World Cup campaign after losing their opening game to Saudi Arabia.
The South American team were on the verge of being knocked out of the competition after their opening defeat. However, a couple of clever changes by Scaloni to both tactics and personnel fixed the situation.
They ended up topping Group C and have also been impressive during the knockout stages of the competition, defeating the likes of Australia, the Netherlands, and Croatia.
In 2018, Lionel Scaloni took over a broken Argentina squad that had lost three straight finals and had just been eliminated in the round of 16 of the 2018 World Cup.
He won the Copa America in 2021, their first trophy since 1993.
He’s one win away from the World Cup.
Scaloni’s tactics in their quarter-final were impressive as he deployed a three-man defensive set-up against the Netherlands to limit their attack and neutralize their wing-backs
Against Croatia, he deployed a four-man midfield to out-number the experienced trio of Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic, and Marcelo Brozovic.
Scaloni seems to be making the best tactical choices for each game so far. He will be hoping to emulate Carlos Bilardo as the last Argentine manager to win the FIFA World Cup.
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