The day that Diego Maradona became a legend is now exactly 36 years ago.

In the huge Aztec stadium in Mexico City, they carried the young football god through the arena, and all that remained was to congratulate the exhausted, exhausted German players.

Argentina had won the 1986 World Cup final 3-2, had become world champion for the second time, the whole country was reeling in happiness and from then on Maradona had eluded any earthly jurisdiction.

Diego Maradona is now dead, but the dream of the next world title is more alive than it has been for a long time.

The current generation of the "Albiceleste" has contributed to this in particular.

Since winning the title at the 2021 Copa America in Brazil, the white-sky-blue seem to have been relieved of the pressure of having to win.

The 3-0 victory over Italy in the cross-continental comparison between South American champions and European champions fueled the current enthusiasm a few weeks ago.

Maradona and Messi side by side

Whether Argentina is actually as good as the whole country thinks it will be seen in just under 150 days.

In any case, the victory in the so-called "Finalissima" against Italy gave Lionel Messi a feeling for the second time that he had not often experienced in his now also long career in the national team.

Raising a trophy as the captain of the “Weißhimmelblauen”.

The record world footballer, who turned 35 a few days ago, did not experience the historic final of 1986 due to the grace of late birth and only knows it from the history books.

Or from the stories of Maradona himself, who hovered over the national team and Argentine football like a godfather and almost crushed them.

The Argentinian fans, on the other hand, have made a mythical connection between the two figures of light.

Since the Argentinian national team has been giving away trophies again, there have been more and more drawings in which Messi and Maradona ascend to heaven together or the deceased grandmaster transfers his power to his successor with a pointer, as in biblical paintings.

With the earthly competition from Brazil, England or Germany, that may sound kitschy, but in the Argentinian milieu, which is always enriched with a touch of the supernatural and in which a hand of God can sometimes turn things around for the better against a former wartime enemy, something like this can definitely unfold its own power .

Meanwhile, the scouts, who are more interested in tangible facts, are looking at the facts.

And they say that since coach Lionel Scaloni took over the team two years ago, the overall structure is right.

Above all, Messi plays like the Argentines only knew him from FC Barcelona: light-footed, successful, radiant.

As if he was born again.

"This Argentine face is scary," recently commented the Spanish sports daily "Marca".

Defender veteran Carlos Puyol, who played with Messi at Barcelona, ​​sees Argentina and Brazil at the top: "Brazil and Argentina are the World Cup favorites," said Puyol, impressed by Argentina's 3-0 win over Italy.

Scaloni as reconciler

Scaloni, who witnessed Argentina's victory in Mexico as a young boy, found the right mix.

Under him, Messi has matured into the leading figure that the Argentines had always seen in him.

The dark experiences like at the World Cup in Russia, where the mood was so bad that it resulted in a huge argument between the team and the then coach Jorge Sampaoli during the tournament, are forgotten.

Scaloni, who was born in the industrial town of Rosario, seems to feel at home with his compatriots.

Given the enthusiasm surrounding the team, star striker Paulo Dybala makes no attempt to downplay expectations.

It would be pointless anyway.

"There's still a long way to go," says Dybala.

And with a view to the level of performance in the squad, which will make it difficult even for him to get a regular place: "The Argentine team has incredible players in all positions, it's not easy."

Scaloni knows the task he has to fulfill.

With the successes at the Copa and the continental comparison against European champions Italy, which is highly regarded in Argentina, the comparatively young coach from Santa Fe appears relaxed on the outside and exudes a remarkable inner calm.

Like someone who knows what material is available to him.

Looking at Group C, which is by no means a sure-fire success, Scaloni said a few days ago: “These are difficult rivals.

We know Mexico best, Saudi Arabia has a vertical team that played well in qualifying and Poland has an excellent history at the World Cup with exceptional successes Tournament in Qatar begins with the supposedly easy duel against Saudi Arabia.

Four weeks later, a monumental moment similar to what happened exactly 36 years ago in the Aztec Stadium in Mexico City should take place.

Then, at the end of his career, Messi should slip into the role that Diego Maradona held until his death: the final rise to the Olympus of Argentine football.

The transition from the living to the mystical legend.

This is the moment that all of Argentina has been waiting for since the moment that young Messi entered the world football arena and that is only possible with this one trophy, the last trophy he still lacks.

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