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World Cup 2022

Scaloni counts on ‘spirit of sacrifice’ for Argentina after Finalissima win

Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni insisted his side can compete with any team at the World Cup after their 3-0 win over Italy in the UEFA/CONMEBOL Finalissima at Wembley on Wednesday.

The Albiceleste were ruthless in transition, pouncing on any opportunity to counter, with first-half goals from Lautaro Martinez and Angel Di Maria capped off by Paulo Dybala’s second-half injury-time strike.

Argentina set a new national team record in the process, now moving to 32 matches unbeaten.

On the back of 2021’s Copa America triumph, Scaloni said that while his team is vital as any heading into Qatar, success will only come through spirit.

He told ESPN Argentina:

“What counts is the spirit of sacrifice, struggle and team spirit shown by the group, beyond the results.

“We want performance, to know what the team is looking for on the pitch.

“There is, perhaps, too much enthusiasm [in public] because in football, when you think everything is done, they take you down with a stroke of the pen.

“We do know that we will go to a World Cup to compete on an equal footing.

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Scaloni counts on 'spirit of sacrifice' for Argentina after Finalissima win

“We believe that the confidence of winning frees you from many things.

“But we are not exempt from the fact that the team can block itself at some point, which worries me.

“We have to be prepared in case fate takes a turn.”

The South American champions faced difficulty as the game compressed despite most possession.

Chiefly through Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria, they sprung into life whenever space opened.

Much like their struggles late in the World Cup qualification phase – which culminated in playoff elimination at the hands of North Macedonia – Italy looked lifeless without Marco Verratti, on the other hand, managing only one shot in the penalty area.

Scaloni conceded the result misrepresented certain aspects of his team’s performances.

But is buoyed by a similar spirit that propelled the team to success in Brazil last year.

He said post-match:

“I don’t know if it’s the best game we played.

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Scaloni counts on 'spirit of sacrifice' for Argentina after Finalissima win

“In the first half, I think they put us in trouble. We feel comfortable afterwards.

“I want that we are in the same way every time we get together, united as we are now.

“The World Cup will be something else, and it has a different pressure.

“Now people enjoy, and it is the most important thing for us.”

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