The questions towards Gerardo Martino turned on an inevitable axis: the morbidity that a coach could leave his country’s National Team out of the World Cup. For Tata Martino, in effect, it will be a special match. Because of his origin, because he was the coach of the national team, because in the middle is that broken heart in two of his own family and because a lot of his future is also at stake in the Aztec team. In any case, the coach resolved that dilemma very naturally…
When asked what could leave Messi himself, whom he directed, without his last World Cup (in principle, of course), Tata immediately came out against it: “I would ask you: ‘if you were in my place, what would you do?’ Surely you would look for Mexico to win. There is no other answer, because I work for this team. I know where I was born, I know the name of the sanatorium, in what year, I can tell you the characteristics of my city, but I have to do the impossible for Mexico to win.”
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The Rosario is very aware of what is at stake. Even what it would mean for Argentina to be eliminated in a group round. But he also pointed out how football (and fate) put this game in an unexpected situation. And everything, because of the bump in Saudi Arabia that changed the logic of group C: “I am not unaware that the future of the two teams depends a lot on what happens in this match. But when the match schedule was made and we got Argentina, we never imagined this scenario. Although we work for Mexico and we want the best for Mexico,” he concluded.
What is clear is that against Argentina he himself is also playing his future in the National Team. In other words, a victory would be another World Cup shock, but at the same time a defeat against Messi’s team would complicate the classification of his team and his permanence. Although the DT was not loaded with more pressure: “I don’t understand that the pressure falls on one, when in reality we all work for the Mexico team. I am in that project. Later it will be seen, with the result posted, what is emphasized, but we are one thing”.
The Argentine coach also did not want to speculate on whether a draw could serve his country’s team, also taking into account the situation in Argentina: “It is difficult to establish it without going into the analysis. There is also another game that is going to be played and that is of great interest (in the previous match Saudi Arabia and Poland will face each other). Sometimes you don’t deserve anything and the tie ends up being good. In others, you deserve something more, as it happened to us with Poland and the draw doesn’t satisfy you”, he reflected.
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How to stop Messi
The question is repeated in each conference, regardless of the rival coach on duty. It is, perhaps, the most repeated consultation of the last decade. And Tata, when defining Lionel Messi, also took him further back: “For me Leo is the best footballer of the last 15 years. There isn’t much more to say…”, the part of the conference started in the that referred to the Argentine 10.
Define Messi on the one hand, how to mark him, on the other. The second most repeated query of the decade was also answered by Tata: “I think it’s more about Lionel having a bad afternoon than what we can do. We always have to prepare the game thinking that Messi is going to have the best version. We cannot speculate on anything else. Because many times, without having a full 90 minutes, a game is resolved in just five. You always have to pay maximum attention to him,” said the DT who directed him in the Argentine National Team and also in Barcelona, and with whom he is also united by his love for Newell’s, in addition to his place of birth, of course.
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Lastly, the man from Rosario referred to the Argentine coach, with whom he shared a squad at the beginning of Scaloni in NOB, although the coach could not contribute much in this regard: “If I tell you that I remember something from when I played with him … I could tell you a big lie, but I prefer to say that I don’t remember anything. He was a 16-year-old boy, what can he say at that moment when he still had a career as a forward of a future as a coach…”.
But he did refer to his evolution as DT: “What he did as DT is what the Argentine National Team shows today, how the project was directed, how the players aligned themselves behind that project and the way in which their way of playing was mutating to end in the expression of the last year and a half, which is different from the initial one. He has transformed Argentina into what we have all said in the run-up to this World Cup: into a candidate for the title. And that didn’t change despite the loss with Saudi Arabia.”
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