One of the explanations put forward in the midst of the confusion and chaos that caused the defeat against Saudi Arabia was that of high number of World Cup rookies that the National Team put on the field and, therefore, the lack of experience. Dibu, Molina, Cuti, De Paul, Paredes, Papu and Lautaro… Although few of them fall into the category of “kids”, the seven had their baptism on Tuesday in the maximum appointment. However, and contrary to common sense, this It is not an exorbitant figure if you review the history of the World Cupswhere evidence of this abounds and even antecedents of pleasant memory, both their own and those of others.
First, The 7 rookies that Scaloni put in Qatar are barely above average World Cup first-timers from ’78 to today -to put a historical cut that includes the two albiceleste coronations-. In the 12 World Cups that have passed since then, Argentina has an average of 6 rookie starters in each of the cup starts.
The highest figure was given on three occasions, in 1978 and 1986 -nothing less-, and in 2006. Three profound replacement processes after World Cups that could be classified as failures, as happened with Scaloni leading the arduous task of post-fiasco renewal in Russia.
- In ’78 the 8 chosen by Menotti who had their World Cup baptism were Tarantini, Galván, Passarella, Olguín, Ardiles, Gallego, Valencia and Luque (only Fillol, Houseman and Kempes they had played in ’74). That cup start went to Hungary 2-1 with cries from Luque and Bertoni.
- In ’86 the 8 debutants of Bilardo were Ruggeri, Clausen, Tata Brown, Garré, Batista, Giusti, Burruchaga and Pasculli (Maradona and Valdano had played in ’82 while Pumpido, although he did not play, was part of that Spanish squad). The result was 3-1 over the karatecas from South Korea with a double from Valdano and a goal from Ruggeri.
- And in 2006 Pekerman opted for 8 “rookies”: Abbondanzieri, Burdisso, Heinze, Maxi Rodríguez, Mascherano, Cambiasso, Riquelme and Saviola (Ayala and Crespo already had two Cups on them, while Sorín was in 2002). It was 2-1 against the Ivory Coast with celebrations from Conejo and Valdanito.
Consequently, difficult to attribute the bad taste of the debut to the lack of World Cup experience of those chosen by Scaloni.
In addition, and as happened this Tuesday, in France ’98 Passarella also entered 7 rookies from the start to beat Japan 1-0 with a goal from Bati -who else?-. These were Roa, Vivas, Ayala, Zanetti, Almeyda, Verón and Piojo López.
Maximum experience, worst result
On the other hand, the more they bet on the experienced in World Cup matters, the worse it was for us.
- In Spain ’82 el Flaco repeated nine of the ’78 champions in his debut against Belgium (0-1 defeat)with the incorporation of Maradona and Ramón Díaz.
- Twenty years later, In Korea Japan, Loco Bielsa also preferred the experienced: in the 1-0 draw against Nigeria with a header from Batistuta, the only new faces were those of Pochettino, Samuel, Placente and Sorín.
- While in 2018, with a good part of the runner-up team in Brazil as immovable, Sampaoli only made their debut for Wilfredo Caballero, Toto Salvio, Tagliafico and Maxi Meza. The match, fresh in my memory, was 1-1 against Iceland with a goal from Agüero.
In the middle were the experiences of Italy ’90 (6 rookies in the 1-0 defeat against Cameroon: Simón, Lorenzo, Fabbri, Sensini, Basualdo and Balbo), USA ’94 (Cáceres, Chamot, Simeone, Redondo and Bati made their debut in the 4-0 win over Greece), South Africa 2010 (Diego opted for Chiquito Romero, Jonás Gutiérrez, Demichelis, Di María -who “they didn’t want”, according to the 10 himself- and Higuaín to beat Nigeria 1-0) and Brazil 2014 (Zabaleta, Campagnaro, Fede Fernández, Garay and Rojo were Sabella’s debutants, all defenders, in the 2-1 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina).
The last world champions
On the other side, it is worth reviewing the history of the rookies in the world champion teams of the last six editions, whose competition format is maintained to this day.
France in Russia 2018: DT Deschamps chose 7 rookies to face the appointment in the debut (2-1 over Australia). Among the first-timers were no less than Kanté and Mbappé, perhaps the two great French figures of the contest.
Germany in Brazil 2014: the Germans had just played in the semifinals in the last three World Cups, so it is not surprising that Joachim Low has had a squad with a good number of experienced players. For the debut (4-0 over Portugal) there were only 3 debutantsincluding the feared Mario Gotze.
Spain in South Africa 2010: the case that is repeated so much these days in our country. The (former) Fury started losing in the African edition (1-0 with Switzerland), and that had a team with a majority of players with World Cup experience. The unique generation that Vicente del Bosque enjoyed came from appearing in Germany 2006 and running into Zidane’s France in the round of 16. Against Switzerland there were only 4 debutantswith Piqué and Busquets among them.
Italy in Germany 2006: Although he was one of the oldest champions in history, Lippi’s Azzurra did not have World Cup experience to spare. In the debut against Ghana (2-0) in Germany the DT put 7 rookies. Luca Toni, Fabio Grosso, Daniele De Rossi and none other than Andrea Pirlo (just 27 years old) They made their cupbearer debut.
Brazil in Korea Japan 2002: another one that appeared with 7 rookies in the Cup that he would end up winning. In a suffered 2-1 defeat of Turkey, Scolari was with a majority of new faces, among which Lucio and Ronaldinho stood out.
France in France 1998: finally, the case that collapses any type of obligation when choosing experience world cup. France had missed the appointments of ’90 and ’94, so it remains to be said that neither Zidane nor Barthez nor Henry nor any of the other 19 Aimé Jacquet players had any Cup on their backs.