As a footballer, he was part of the National Team that won in 2005 in La Paz. Now he repeated history as a coach.
Between this historic victory in the height of La Paz and the last one, which had occurred 15 years ago, there is a common denominator: Lionel Scaloni. Now a coach, before a player, the man from Pujato knows of triumphs “close to heaven”. He won from inside the court and did it again from the other side of the lime line with the National Team.
In hostile terrain and with many difficulties for the Argentines, he seems to have the formula to leave with a smile on his face, even if his lungs lack air.
On March 26, 2005, Scaloni had been a starter in the midfield of the Argentine team led by José Pekerman, who brought a substitute formation to La Paz, but which did not lack category.
Argentina defeated Bolivia 2-1 on that occasion, with goals from two Lucianos: Figueroa and Galletti. And the current coach of the National Team played the 90 minutes, standing out for the round trip. There was another coincidence: he started the game at a disadvantage and turned it around.
15 years passed between one game and another. Four World Cups, nine coaches, dozens and dozens of players passed. But the amount of time that Argentina had not won at the height of La Paz will no longer be discussed.
“Taking out the initial 15 minutes, for the rest of the game we were a team that dominated and knew what they were playing at. We held their attacks and were fortunate enough to draw before the end of the first half. And that made us really want to start and go out to win in the second “, analyzed the DT, who in the previous one had been very cautious when saying that” at the height, Bolivia is one of the best teams in the world. ”
Then the coach made reference to the changes, including that of Joaquin Correa, who scored the winning goal. “With the changes we always try to improve. They gave us freshness and they entered very well,” said Scaloni.
So it was. When he was averaging the complement, he made key changes to give the team air. He even took out two of his “fetish players”, Leandro Paredes and Rodrigo De Paul, to oxygenate the midfield.
In another passage of the press conference that lasted two minutes and twenty-five seconds (yes, 2m25), in which answered only three questions, Scaloni highlighted Exequiel Palacios, one of the best Argentine players on Bolivian soil.
“In Palacios I found a great soccer player, who we hope will continue with us and play for his club. We appreciate him and we know what he can give us. We are very happy with him,” said the DT.
The Selection kept air and had a reserve in the second half. And that he could not do what is usually advised in these cases: arrive on the same day of the game at the 3,660 meters of altitude of La Paz. The National Team had to travel on Sunday, given the coronavirus pandemic and the logistical and health complications that involved going first to the Santa Cruz de la Sierra plain.
This Tuesday, October 13, with the 2-1 victory, it will remain in the history of the National Team for cutting an adverse streak that included a humiliation (1-6) in 2009 for the World Cup Qualifiers in South Africa, when the DT was Diego Armando Maradona.
Then Argentina had equaled 1-1 in the Sabella era (for Brazil 2014) and had fallen 2-0 with the Paton Bauza in the bank (for Russia 2018). The Qualifiers for Qatar 2022 began, the local victory over Ecuador came and now the victory in La Paz against Bolivia.
With Lionel Scaloni, the tamer of the height.