I remember the 2014 Champions League final against Atletico Madrid. I was behind Cristiano lining up in the tunnel, and I was looking at the trophy on the podium - it looked amazing. It took my breath away and Cristiano looked over his shoulder and said ‘Don’t worry, Paul’.
Now, that is confidence and that is belief. I wasn’t even playing in the game, but that’s what the big players have, they relish it.
This post is for the people who still live in 2012 and think that Messi is the only important player in the Argentina National Team. Sit back and relax while meeting the amazing players you missed because apparently Argentina is “Messi’s team”.
Meet Javier Mascherano.
Aka someone who is willing to tear his ass on the pitch multiple times to secure a win for his team. Plays for Barcelona and a big part of why they won the treble this year. Has an average 91.5% pass success in all competitions. Probably the best CDM in the world right now, and on top of that, shows great leadership (even when he’s not captain). “Hoy, hoy te conviertes un heroe” anyone?
Meet Marcos Rojo.
Can play as both center-back and left-back. Part of the FIFA World Cup All-Star Team in 2014. Amazing at set pieces, but even better at clearing balls under pressure. Won the Copa Libertadores in 2009 and the Argentine Primera División in 2010 with Estudiantes. Joined Manchester United in 2014 and makes an average 6.3 clearances per game in the Premier League.
Meet Nicolás Otamendi.
Arguably the best center-back from South America and one of the best in La Liga. Extremely strong at aerial duels (wins an average of 3.6 per game) and delivers important tackles, and yet very underrated. Makes an average 7.3 clearances per game for Valencia. In this gif, he blocked the shot of the player you believe Argentina revolves around.
Meet Lucas Biglia.
Plays at defensive/central midfield, yet great at tackles. Has one of the best pass success rates in the Copa America (92%) and Serie A (88%). This man actually has no position, he can play at many different areas in the field. One minute he’s blocking a shot and the next, he’s delivering a creative pass like the one in this gif.
Meet Ángel Di María.
He needs absolutely no introduction. Has such immense pace and creates key passes for Argentina and Manchester United. Although he is an attack-minded player, he has made an average of 2.2 tackles per game in the Copa America. Named Man of the Match for the UEFA Champions League Final in 2014. Attacks like crazy in every game; the only reason he is not top scorer is because of tough luck and great goalkeepers.
Meet Javier Pastore.
The dark horse for Argentina this year. Only 26 years old, but plays in like 6 different positions, all the way from central midfielder to center forward. Great with both his right and left foot, so very versatile on the field. Great dribbler (average 2.2 per game) and great at stealing the ball. Has been key for the attack of Argentina in this Copa.
Meet Ezequiel Lavezzi.
Has not started for Argentina that often in this Copa America, but delivers a great performance every time he plays. Good at taking set pieces, but amazing at crossing. Has an 86.3% pass success rate in Ligue 1.
Meet Gonzalo Higuaín.
Like Messi, he scores goals for fun (esp. with this national team). He became the top scorer for the South American section of World Cup Qualifiers in 2013 with 9 goals, scored 18 and assisted 7 for Napoli in Serie A last season, and scored two goals in the Copa América this year. He is the 6th top scorer for Argentina in history. Raised hope for Argentina in both the WC2014 Final and the Copa America final by getting close to scoring the winning goal, but the world doesn’t want Pipita to have a moment like that in his life.
Meet Kun Agüero.
One of the best strikers in the world today. Scored 26 goals with 8 assists for Machester City last season and was the top scorer for Argentina in the Copa Améria with 3 goals. Has an average 4 shots and 2.6 dribbles per game. What he did for his club is undeniable; scored a goal in the 94th minute to give Manchester City the Premier League title after who knows how many years. Always praises Messi and calls him the best in the world, but man, he doesn’t know how great of a player he is himself.
Last but not least, meet Sergio Romero.
I don’t know what to say about this man. I really don’t. The number of times he has saved Argentina is countless. He was the hero when he led Argentina to the finals in the penalties against the NETHERLANDS!!! and led them to the finals again this year against freaking Paraguay. Not to mention that he is a free agent, which means that he hasn’t been playing for a club and is only on international duty; and yet, he has delivered such a kick-ass performance this tournament. He survived 2 penalty shootouts in one year and man, I don’t blame him for not surviving the 3rd. He must be tired. But, he is a freaking hero and ignoring his talent and determination and calling Argentina “Messi’s team” is a disrespect to football.
If you still wanna say Argentina is reliant on Messi, just know that you are completely and utterly IGNORANT to pure footballing talent and *flips hair* you can kiss my ass.
Diego Milito, Forward, Milito began his club career in Argentina with Racing Club in 1999, and later moved to Italian side Genoa in 2003. In 2005, he was acquired by Spanish club Real Zaragoza, where he remained for three seasons, before returning to Genoa in 2008. His prolific goalscoring exploits during his second spell with Genoa earned him a move to defending Serie A champions Inter, where he was pivotal in the club’s 2009–10 treble-winning season scoring 32 goals in all competitions including two goals in the 2010 UEFA Champions League Final. He returned to Racing Club in 2014, where he retired in 2016. At international level, Milito has earned 25 caps for Argentina, scoring 4 goals, and represented his country in two Copa América tournaments, winning a runners-up medal in 2007, and at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
He has been nicknamed El Príncipe (“The Prince” in Spanish) because of his physical resemblance with former Uruguayan footballer Enzo Francescoli, who had the same nickname.
Milito has averaged just over a goal every two appearances over the course of his professional career. Arguably one of the most underrated strikers of his generation?
young winners who are future world class, future captains, future baes, future everything.
JJ & Varane took the soccer world by storm when they made they started playing for millions of viewers. For JJ that was playing with the uswnt in the World Cup, and for Varane it was playing his first games for Real Madrid at 18 years old. Johnston had already had a successful college career, and captained the U-20 world cup winning team, while Varane’s sole season in French team Lens was enough to impress famed coach Jose Mourinho to bring him to Real Madrid.
Once they got their first few games with their senior sides it was quick to see that they played with no fear of how big the moment was.
No matter who you were.
They quickly established themselves as just not future world class players, but future leaders of their teams. JJ is in line to become future uswnt captain, while Varane, at 21 years old, captained his senior France national team. (x)
Varane was part of a France NT that made it to the quarter finals before being eliminated by the eventual champions, Germany. It was still a success for France, who were looking to redeem their utterly abysmal 2010 performance that saw them exit at group stage and revolt against their coach. Johnston now has won the U-20 World cup & followed it up with being a huge part of USWNT winning their first world cup in 16 years.
At club level, Julie Johnston was the #1 pick in the NWSL draft by Chicago Red Stars, and with good reason; she finished that season starting all games and being named NWSL rookie of the year. Raphael Varane has gotten more and more time at centerback, solidifying his place in the team, and started in the 2014 Champions League final for Real Madrid as they won their first Champions League trophy in 12 years.
While defensively great, both players also help on the offensive side, being a good target on set pieces.
Anyone who’s seen these two play can see that they’re future legends of the game and they already have some of the silverware to show it. Much is expected of them, but they show no signs of buckling down under the weight of the expectations.