The clash of two different football philosophies was on display yesterday. On one side was the cool, the calculated Didier Deschamps who rotated almost his entire squad, while on the other hand was Jorge Sampaoli, who didn't know what to do and just thrust all his emotional energies on the field in the form of an out of sorts Argentine team.
Worse, we aren't even sure that it was Jorge Sampaoli's team at all. Looking at the aforementioned, it doesn't seem very bright for La Albiceleste, does it? However, if you are a French fan, you must be ready for the worst. Yes, the worst!
A lot has been said about the dull & unmotivated skipper Lionel Messi but with that first goal against Nigeria, one can make easily make out the kind of impact he has on this Argentine team. There are generally two kinds of captains, one who talks a lot and one who walks the talk. Messi certainly seems to fall in the latter category.
Moreover, the kind of men he was carrying on his shoulders didn't make the work easy. In Mascherano, he had an overaged midfield commander, a talent way past his prime in Di Maria, an out of sorts striker in Higuain, a goalkeeper who was making his international debut and a coach who looks to be an ex-biker chain gang member rather than a football coach.
However, there was something common in all this mediocrity and that was the passion for the game. Even after making at least a dozen mistakes and conceding a penalty, the heart was there, the fervour was there, the guts were there and the underlying zest to win was unmistakable.
Mascherano's injury-ridden face told the whole of the story in itself and that emotional hug with skipper brought the stadium down This whole passion was time & again reignited by their fans who were as noisy as a hen with one chicken.
Yes, France does possess a band of superstars who are in their prime, in fact, a band which has often been touted as the golden generation of French football. The likes of Giroud, Griezmann, Pogba, Mbappe, Kante, Dembele, Umtiti and Varane are just too good to be in a team. They seem to have an unbelievable attacking potent and a watertight defence, glued together by a magnificent defence.
However, their coach Deschamps has taken some questionable decisions so far- Matuidi playing as a left winger being the case in point. Matuidi has primarily played the role of a central defender for both Juventus as well as France and him playing as a left winger came as a shocker for the fans.
Lemar would have been a more suitable choice for this role but Deschamps being Deschamps, took a strange decision. So can this technically gifted France subdue the passionate Argentine brave-hearts, who are lead by none other than their mercurial skipper Lionel Messi would be a treat to watch.
After the match against Nigeria, an emotional Messi told the press that there is nothing bigger than wearing the Argentine shirt and if that doesn't sound like a war bugle then I wonder what does?