Argentina national team coach Lionel Scaloni spoke about his players taking penalty kicks, Lionel Messi and winning the World Cup.
Lionel Scaloni became the first Argentina coach since Carlos Bilardo in 1986 to win the World Cup. And speaking in an interview with FIFA.com, the World Cup winning coach spoke about it all.
The World Cup champions were involved in two penalty kicks at the World Cup. The first against the Netherlands and the second in the final against France. Here is what Scaloni had to say:
“When we went around to see who wanted to take a penalty, we had two players too many. We always had players that wanted to take a penalty. Those are perhaps the toughest moments.
“When there are people behind the goal…and 80,000 in the stadium, it’s not the same as kicking while in training. But I think that it counts for something. You feel the ball, you feel the strike.”
He stated that the win against Poland was Argentina’s most complete performance while also stating that the loss against Saudi Arabia was a blessing in disguise:
“I can say that losing that match was a positive thing because I think it also gave the team a new perspective. It was all to play for, and perhaps that forced us to change our approach… The team and the squad as a whole showed that they were ready for anything.”
He also explained why Argentina were rarely exposed to counter attacks:
“We believe strongly in recovering the ball within the first three, four or five seconds after losing possession. If we can’t win the ball back, we move into midfield and wait. We never suffered many counter-attacks due to our team’s [defensive] work and keeping the opposition wingers in check. So, for us, when we prepare how to attack, we also prepare for how the opposition will look to counter-attack, and we didn’t suffer many of those.”
When asked about Lionel Messi:
“I think is important, to realise what a player like him needs. In the first few months with the national team we tried to play a bit faster, a bit more direct and noticed he wasn’t comfortable and his teammates weren’t comfortable, so I think one of our merits, of all of us, the squad as a whole, was having found those players who could let him play his football.
“Nowadays, a 35 year old player is like a 29 or 30 year old, in the old days. Players take care of themselves much more and they spend 24 hours a day thinking about football. I think a player at that age in football today is able to play at a high level, including seven matches in a row, as many have demonstrated.”
About getting emotional when Argentina won the World Cup:
“I stayed there for 30 seconds, and I saw the players and all my people celebrating. Still get so excited, I think it’s a unique moment. It’s priceless… to see all of them there celebrating, for me it was one of the most beautiful moments since I’ve been playing football and since I have been coaching. No doubt about it. It was 30 seconds which I’m going to cherish for the rest of my life.”