Creative Soccer Culture

Scenes From Argentina’s First Game Since World Cup Win

Argentina returned to action for the first time since their historic win in Qatar, entertaining Panama for a friendly at El Monumental in Buenos Aires… And monumental was the appropriate word for the atmosphere created by the home fans as they welcomed their heroes, led by Lionel Messi, back to action.

Few sights in the world can put a tingle down your spine quite like 80-odd thousand fans singing in unison, pouring out their adoration for a select squad of players who have achieved immortality, and yet can do nothing in this instance but soak it up. It’s scenes like that that make you wonder how anyone in the world could not love the beautiful game. Argentina, fresh off their triumph in Qatar, led by their talisman, Lionel Messi, arrived at Estadio Más Monumental for their first game since winning the World Cup, and they were greeted by a cacophony of pure emotion.

Poor old Panama. Although the counter to that would be how lucky were they to be part of such an occasion. Lionel Scaloni picked the same starting lineup from the World Cup final win over France, and the outcome (as if it could have been anything else) was a win to the home side. And as if that wasn’t enough, the cherry on the cake came in the 90th minute when Lionel Messi stepped up in his signature World Cup X Speedportal 'Leyenda' – complete with a new three star graphic on the forefoot – to dispatch a trademark free kick into the top corner to add to Thiago Almada's opener 11 minutes earlier.

It was Messi’s 800th top-level goal, with his tally including 672 goals over 17 seasons for Barcelona and 29 for PSG. That figure is also bolstered by his 99 international goals, with two coming in the World Cup final. He’ll now have the opportunity to score his 100th international goal when Argentina play Curacao on Tuesday – a sure bet if ever there was one, you’d think.

The final whistle signalled the start of the celebrations proper, with family and friends joining Messi and his Argentina teammates on the pitch with fireworks lighting up the night and fans in full voice, roaring their adulation for their champion side, who held replica World Cup trophies aloft. Quite the scenes, and well earned.

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Daniel Jones

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