Messi is incredible again, and Italy is dismantled
CONMEBOL and UEFA finally have a real response to FIFA that goes beyond idle chatter and bureaucratic disputes. FIFA throws in ideas, other confederations split, and in the end, financially and athletically the most powerful South American and European zones are forced to bend to the simple majority from Asia and Africa for the most part. This is how FIFA squeezes through almost every idea and monopolizes soccer around the world. So far, CONMEBOL and UEFA have only responded through the mouths of individual officials and on the sharpest of occasions. The last one, perhaps, is the idea of holding the World Cup every two years – so that the continental organizations would not have to think freely at all, and the money flow and adoration of FIFA would increase.
CONMEBOL and UEFA have enough resources of their own to fight back against FIFA, but so far they have acted in isolation. It was only last year that they managed to put their thoughts and ideas into something tangible. The finalissima is the first and seemingly timid, but still a real step towards ensuring that FIFA listens to the strongest confederations in the world. After all, it is worth recalling that all the world champions were either from South America or Europe.
Let us imagine an extreme degree of quarrel in which CONMEBOL and UEFA leave FIFA and create their own tournament altogether. The FIFA World Cup brand would instantly become a kind of Intertoto Cup with Asian and African national teams. Who will watch it? Finalissima is not just a revival of a beautiful idea. It is also a strong political hint from CONMEBOL and UEFA, saying that they can negotiate without FIFA, if anything.
There were fears that Finalissima would turn into a kind of another friendly match in some fancy wrapper. Those were strong fears. But Argentina and Italy, as well as the organizers, did not let up. From that point of view, the choice of England and Wembley to host the first such match was wise. It is the minimum risk of failure in terms of organization, because the British know a lot about it. And the entourage is guaranteed. As we can see from the experience of Paris and the recent Champions League Final, the perception of the event depends a lot on the organizers.
It is clear that CONMEBOL and UEFA will not try to immediately replace the World Cup, but they have successfully taken the place of the defunct Confederations Cup, which, anyway, the presence of representatives of other continents only soured the pleasure. Everyone was waiting for the meeting between the strongest teams from Europe and South America. And here it was in the format of the finals. And we have a successful historical parallel – the Artemio Franco Cup, which was played in 1985 and 1993. By the way, Argentina won the second Cup and France won the first one.
All in all, the idea is great and the execution is good at this stage. It all depends on how far CONMEBOL and UEFA are ready to go, as well as what financial, administrative or other resources FIFA will use. And in general, whether FIFA will want to do it or will be satisfied with the South Americans and Europeans indulging in the sandbox. But let’s move on from the long introduction to the game itself, which lived up to expectations.
The Old World has been turned off
We can try to explain the result with a simple motivational component. Supposedly, Italy treated the match more as a friendly – we talked about such fears at the very beginning, talking about the Finalissima as an idea. Well, then we can call it a day. But still we can’t get into people’s heads, so let’s proceed from equal motivational components. Even if teams have different motivations, it doesn`t change the one that wasn`t motivated – it`s part of soccer and its problems. You didn`t have enough energy and excitement? This also says a lot and does not beautiful Italy.
Roberto Mancini’s speech before the game could have been demotivating. It was as if he had already given up on this version of the team, saying that this match was the last one in the current cycle and squad, and then there will be quite a significant renewal. So the Italians looked like written-off pensioners, like a car that drives the last kilometers and is guided by the principle “Participation is the main thing. They underperformed here, underperformed there, made a mistake there – and that will do, anyway, they will not have to solve any more serious tasks in this lineup and in this combination.
But there is some truth in Mancini’s words. Utter helplessness in attack and gross mistakes in defense from the most experienced players are not just a wake-up call, it’s a funeral bell. Bonucci’s near-autogolf pass, Di Lorenzo beaten like a child repeatedly, Chiellini losing a goal scoring drive to Di Maria, who is also far from young, is a sad sight.
And Mancini’s sad look on the field showed that Roberto is already mentally going through the names of the youngsters in their places. All the more so because for Chiellini this match was his farewell in the national team. And Giorgio played just one half. It was quite a goodbye. But in principle it is also a farewell to the current Italian national team which has been in pain for several years, and then powerfully revived, but not for long. And then fell again.
It was about PSG
Now for the Argentine national team. This match, oddly enough, said a lot about PSG. Although mostly confirmed what was already known about this club: a place to serve the number, which does not inspire the players. Look at the Parisian representatives – Messi and Di Maria – they were just tearing it up in the Finalissima. Everything was flying, the passing was brilliant, the dribbling was brilliant. It was Messi at his best in Barcelona. It was as if Di Maria had added youthful freshness to his years of wisdom. What was wrong with them in Paris?
The result of this match was devastating for a number of reasons. Essentially, the teams met in different phases of their lives, with different motivations, and with different levels of readiness and attitudes of their leaders. Even the difference in the coaching approach: Mancini, apathetic all the way, against the emotional and energetic Scaloni. All those factors resulted in a result that seemed to indicate a huge difference in class between the teams. And at one point, it really was enormous.