The legendary stadium in Buenos Aires may be called the Monumental, but it could never have contained the more than 1.5 million people who tried to acquire a place in line to attend the big return to the field of the sport. the Argentinian team, crowned with its title of world football champion acquired in Qatar in December 2022.
Eighty-three thousand privileged people were finally able to vibrate together, on March 23, 2023, during a friendly match against Panama which above all served as a pretext to celebrate the third star of Albiceleste, even if the opponents of the day have long threatened to upset the party by putting up a fine sporting resistance.
The young midfielder of Atlanta United (United States) Thiago Almada, who had only played a few minutes at the World Cup, released the Argentines in the 78th minute, before the inevitable Lionel Messi finished the ball with a sumptuous direct free kick (89th), his 800th goal in 1,017 professional matches (2-0).
"Let's enjoy this"
The players gathered in a joyous round in the center of the field were then able to "relive Lusail" - the name of the stadium and the city where the final won against France took place - and once again, Messi was given the trophy in hand, in a stadium capsizing with happiness.
"Let's enjoy this, this third star. It's very difficult to win a World Cup," Messi said on the microphone from the pitch, saying "don't forget all the players with whom we tried to lift this Cup without succeeding" in previous editions.
For the Albiceleste, this return to an Argentine lawn was the first real communion with their "hinchada" since the aborted parade of December 20, when the excess (4 to 5 million on the bus route) had forced the parade to be aborted. victory, finished… in helicopters.
Beatiful smiles like Messi, tears in the eye for goalkeeper "Dibu" Martinez or coach Lionel Scaloni, the world champions, their children by their side, heard the Monumental sing Muchachos, the song that has become the anthem of Argentine fans, before the match. at the World Cup, and forever associated with the 2022 title.
The pre-match had only been a long party of more than four hours with concerts, fireworks, replay of images from the World Cup, and an incessant succession of songs to the glory of the team or players.
Family lap of honor
Did the part really matter? She saw an outrageous domination of the Argentines against Panamanians braced in defense, but disciplined and not clumsy. Clearly not here to watch the champions play, even if they could only get one shot on target.
Panama, 61st in the FIFA rankings, also fielded a second team, coach Thomas Christiansen – who had sent an assistant to Buenos Aires – having announced that he was concentrating on an important match for his team against Costa Rica on Tuesday in Concacaf Nations League.
In turn MacAllister, Fernandez, Messi, Di Maria, made the Panamanian goalkeeper José Guerra shine, when the latter was not saved by his amount on a chance from Messi. It was another amount, on another free-kick from Messi, who returned the ball to Almada, deceiving Guerra with a cross shot for the first goal of the match, before the candy from the Argentine number 10 that sealed the success of the day.
"It was a really good test and a taste of what's to come," Scaloni said at the final whistle. “All will come to us now with the intention of not being beaten, of making things difficult for us. »
The party ended with a lap of honor for the players accompanied by their wives and children. After Panama, it will be Tuesday the turn of the small Caribbean island (160,000 inhabitants) of Curacao, 86th FIFA, to serve as a kind foil to the Albiceleste, in the provinces this time, in Santiago del Estero (north) .