Brazil and Argentina will define the Copa América at the Maracana united by football and the friendship of Neymar and Lionel Messi; separated by the different routes of Tite and Lionel Scaloni, one in the maturity of their careers and the other at the beginning, the umpteenth demonstration of football as a living, unpredictable phenomenon, without instruction manuals.
The extensive curriculum of the Brazilian coach, 60 years old and with experience in the main teams in his country (370 games in front of Corinthians, 164 games with Gremio and 107 with Inter, among other clubs), contrasts with the unexpected arrival of the Argentine to your selection. Scaloni was 40 years old and had not managed any team until, after Jorge Sampaoli’s misfortune at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he held the position honored by César Luis Menotti, Carlos Bilardo, Marcelo Bielsa, Alejandro Sabella, José Pekerman and Alfio Basile . It is true that there are other antecedents of technicians who began to direct from their national teams, such as Franz Beckenbauer in Germany and Marco Van Basten in the Netherlands (and even Diego Maradona in Argentina, although he recorded a brief stint at Racing and Mandiyú), but they were about legends.
Scaloni arrived at his current position with ubiquity as a good ally: his first participation in a coaching staff had been with Sampaoli in Seville, in the 2016/17 season, to fulfill the role of link between the players and the coach, from behind of the main assistant, Sebastián Beccacece. His past as a footballer for the Argentine coach today was at Newell’s, at Deportivo La Coruña, where he wore the number 12 for his sympathy with Boca Juniors. In addition, he played five games with Pékerman’s Albiceleste.
“My father had a lifelong friendship with Jorge Sampaoli, from when he lived in Casilda. We were from Pujato, 10 kilometers (in the interior of Santa Fe). Jorge was already ahead: he coached a team and worked in a bank. My old man knew him because he had terrible quilombos with silver. I would go and say ‘hold on to me, I’ll take you to cover the discovered’. Jorge would stop things for him, he would wait for him after hours. They made a friendship “, Scaloni reconstructed to the official AFA site, in 2020.” My father had an influence for me to direct in Argentino de Rosario, which was a subsidiary of Newell’s (Sampaoli’s first experience in AFA tournaments, in the third category, in 1996). He then had an incredible run. When I retire from football we contacted him. I went to Seville with him ”, he added.
The next step for Sampaoli and his working group was the Argentine national team, in 2017, but the Albiceleste had a bad time on and off the pitch in Russia. The coach was fired. While other members of the coaching staff went with the man who had taken them, a common practice in football, Scaloni, who was not from the small table of Sampaoli, stayed. The president of the AFA, Claudio Tapia, asked him to be the interim coach to direct the immediate friendlies to the World Cup, already signed in advance, while he found a replacement. In the midst of a depressed national team, after Lionel Messi’s most soulless experience at a World Cup, Scaloni began a renovation work. To his good star (Diego Simeone, Mauricio Pochettino and Marcelo Gallardo, the natural candidates, did not accept the position or implied that they would not), the most unexpected technician added a good job, positive results and two decisive blessings, the of Messi and Menotti, general director of national teams.
Assisted by other ex-footballers such as Roberto Ayala, Pablo Aimar and Walter Samuel (none with a past as a coach, but all with extensive experience in the national team), Scaloni went through tests, first that of the Copa América 2019, in which Argentina reached the semifinal against Brazil. With one third of the qualifying rounds for Qatar 2022 already played, the Albiceleste is second and with the course apparently on track, but Scaloni still played a lot in the current Cup. Countering the football manuals, his response was once again positive: Argentina is In the final, Messi is more leader and companion than ever and the replacement, with players more from the European middle class or upper-middle class than from the elite, became a reality with Emiliano and Lautaro Martínez, Nicolás González, Cristian Romero, Rodrigo De Paul and Guido Rodríguez, among others.
The game of Argentina, it is true, is not easy to decipher. Converted into a team with more goals than performance, they hurt easily with their direct play and quickly put themselves ahead, but then they gave up the field of play and the ball, as if possession were not among their priorities. With the spirits through the stratosphere after the victory on penalties against Colombia, Argentina will go for the big blow in the final this Saturday: its first title at the Maracana, one that cuts the 28-year streak without Olympic returns since the 1993 Copa América .
Tite, the redeemer
Tite took over a Brazilian team in crisis in 2016. If the 1-7 against Germany in the 2014 World Cup that crucified coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was still fresh, the 2015 and 2016 Americas Cups, already with Dunga at the helm, were not better. Brazil was eliminated in the quarterfinals of Chile 2015 and in the first phase of the United States 2016. Each game of the Canarinha local was a symphony of whistles: even Neymar was in the crosshairs.
Endorsed by a career that included local and continental titles and even a Club World Cup with Cortinthians in 2012, Tite managed to ensure that his process at the helm of Brazil was respected despite a tough defeat against Belgium in the quarterfinals of the World Cup in Russia. . The first title came quickly, in the Copa América 2019.
Although from more to less in the current edition, where they did not shine in the quarterfinals against Chile or in the semifinals against Peru, the Brazil of the last five years is an ambitious team in offense, solid as steel in defense and sustained In the abundance of footballers who play in the main European clubs: Eder Militão, Vinicius and Roberto Firmino were regular substitutes in this Cup.
Some data is overwhelming. Since Tite took office, Brazil has been undefeated in the 28 official matches they played for the 2018 and 2022 qualifiers and the 2019 and 2021 Copa América, with 23 wins and five draws. He leads the way to Qatar 2022 with six wins in six games and the only game he did not win in this Copa América was 1-1 against Ecuador, when he had already secured first place. Of the 60 presentations in its cycle, Brazil is 81.1% effective, with 45 wins, 11 draws and four defeats, the only official one against the Belgians. Average 2.13 goals for and 0.35 against per game.
But Scaloni and Tité also have a point in common: Argentina’s last defeat was against Brazil, that of Copa América 2019, and Brazil’s last was also against Argentina, a friendly at Ryad five months later, in November of that year. Since then, the Albiceleste has gone 19 games without losing, the second streak in its history, and Brazil has accumulated 13 without losses. So different in their routes, the line graphics of Scaloni and Tite come together at the Maracana.
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