MAINTENANCE. France-Argentina final: the match seen Marcico! His prediction, the teams under scrutiny, Messi and Maradona, the atmosphere in Buenos Aires…

the essential
Entrepreneur in his other city of heart, Buenos Aires, the one who remains a living god for the purple people gives us his view on a necessarily special final. Alberto “Beto” Marcico, now 62, Argentinian international and TFC striker in 1985 and 1992 (248 games; 67 goals, 54 assists) is our great witness. Verbatim.

Argentina-France is the dream final, isn’t it?
Absolutely. Without worry, it is the two best teams of the World Cup that we find at the end. A final symbolized by the duel Messi / Mbappé. These two formations have proven it throughout, they are very solid, keep their line of conduct no matter what happens on the ground. Afterwards, I think the Argentinians, avoiding Brazil in the semi-finals by 3 minutes (Croatia equalized in the 117e), had a less difficult course than that of the French. Because England-France, it was a poster worthy of the half!

Thursday, in the streets of Buenos Aires.

Were you afraid for your country after its inaugural defeat against Saudi Arabia (1-2)?
No-no, not even scared. If you replay the match 10 times, you win it 9 times. I don’t forget that there are 4 canceled goals for us [NDLR : en réalité 3, en première mi-temps, 1 de Messi et 2 de Lautaro Martinez pour des hors-jeux millimétrés]. Then, after the break, the Saudis revved up their aggressiveness. The meeting has hardened. But it’s clear, I repeat: we don’t deserve to lose. Never.

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Same parallel: did the cascade of wounded on the French side worry you?
There, yes. And I must salute the work of Deschamps; he “made it out” well, Didier. He rebuilt an XI in record time because he still missed him 4-5 starters (Pobga, Kanté, Kimpembe, Benzema, L. Hernandez). Then his coaching is good. Here, the half against Morocco. His team is suffering, he brings in the little Thuram in place of Giroud, not at best, and it is he who hits and is at the origin of the goal of the break (penultimate passer for Mbappé). And a deserved qualification.

More generally, the Blues were good from their first match (4-1 against Australia); while the Argentinians improve with each outing.
That’s not quite it… Let’s say that Argentina is having a hard time playing the game but if they are lucky enough to lead, then it can become complicated for the opponent. Because Messi. He has this ability to maneuver the camp opposite, to even manipulate the debates as he wishes. Already our rear guard, with a good goalkeeper in hot moments and an iron defense, is valiant… In summary, when the Albiceleste evolve against, it’s bad luck for the other team (laughs).

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Exactly, Argentina could not be more Messi-dependent!
Sure. Leo achieves a sensational World Cup; he is awful. If he does not play the tournament, we are not in the final. He carried his half against the Croats. There is 3-0 on arrival or if it grows to 5-0 there is nothing to complain about either.

Before, the quarter against the Netherlands will have been tense…
Argentina-Holland, it’s a derby today! Argentinian TV is used to dissecting encounters using 23 cameras. We understood why the Argentinians had entered the game of the Dutch… and Messi’s remarks after the match (notably with the striker Weghorst, editor’s note). If we talk about football again, Lionel started a little inside before delivering his best performance by facing Croatia (a goal, a “dice” pass). We didn’t need this World Cup to know he was superior. He has proven so much that he is extraordinary…

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If Messi wins the Albiceleste third star, will he be Maradona’s equal?
In the moment.

Why only “at the moment”?
For me, Maradona stays above. I rubbed shoulders with him in selection (16 caps for Beto between 1983 and 1998) and in the club at Boca Juniors (one season in 1995 after his time at TFC). He had that extra character, that grinta that Messi doesn’t have. It may also be a question of generation.

Would you have had your place in this Argentina-2022?
I would have liked to evolve in the Albiceleste of 1978, the strongest of all eras. With Kempes, my idol.

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We imagine that it is madness in the country…
Pfff… I live downtown and you can’t go out on game days. There are too many people. Each victory leads to a mega celebration. Now…

Yes ?
The balloon hides misery. We are going through an unprecedented economic, social and political crisis. Inflation peaks at 100%; a plane ticket costs 4 to 5 salaries. And football magically erases all that with the party in the streets…

This French team, let’s talk about it…
Gladly. I find it complete and coherent. I review: a good goalkeeper who also performs, a solid defense with the young Upamecano and Konaté supervised by Varane, a precious midfielder – Rabiot the stabilizer, Tchouaméni the trigger. And I do not mention the attackers, very swift.

Obviously the missing piece of the puzzle. The most South American of the French: first – he smiles –, Antoine drinks maté (a traditional drink, particularly in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, made from infusions and containing caffeine). He performs a high level competition, in a different register. He plays around him, he defends tooth and nail, he still excels at set pieces.

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A crush for a gesture, a goal, a performance to be noted, etc. ?
No. Honestly. I’m waiting for Argentina-France. The best, I insist. The level will have been average, for my taste. Because of the surprises: Germany and Belgium which do not come out of the pools, that inevitably impacts the rest of the competition.

Well, how do you see this final?
Open, at least at first. Between two teams that will not be disunited. Led, each has the weapons to pick up the score.

A key ?
I think that Argentina, like France, will have moments of possession and other moments where they will suffer. And it will be the one of the two formations able to best manage its strong and weak times that will win.

Where are you going to watch the game?
At home, with my family with my two sons. They with the French flag, me with an Argentine pennant. It will be nice and, therefore, whatever the outcome, there will be happy people. May the best win !

Downtown, January 2005.

Downtown, January 2005.

A prediction then…
My heart balances. Frankly, it’s 50/50.

Truly ?
Come on, I’m going to say a very slight advantage to France, finally, given its collective. Even if Lionel Messi is in top form, Argentina only relies on him. In any case, I guarantee a nice game.


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