Leandro Paredes, the goalkeeper of the Argentinian squad

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His entry into the match against the Netherlands, in the quarter-finals, put the meeting in a bad climate. True to his reputation, the Argentinian Leandro Paredes, in his panoply, has this habit that can parasitize a game and disrupt the opponent. And whether you like it or not, this is a weapon that the Croatians should watch out for in the semi-final of the 2022 World Cup, this Tuesday, December 13.

When we talk about football and Argentina, the first flash refers to genius of Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi, with the galloping goals of Gabriel Batistuta and Mario Kempes, with the class of Daniel Passarella and Javier Zanetti… In imagination, the Argentinians are above all aesthetes of the round ball, like their opponents in Brazil. Leandro Paredes comes from a slightly different mold.

The midfielder is not clumsy on the ball. When he was recruited by Paris Saint-Germain in early 2019, he was presented as a clear-sighted passer, capable of distributing long balls and and strikes. But PSG and France quickly discovered another side. That of a stubborn and violent player, often with bad shots and fights on the ground. Argentina’s quarter-finals against the Netherlands revealed this.

The craftsman of the quagmire facing the Netherlands

Entering the game in the 67th minute, Leandro Paredes greatly contributed to the derailment of this game. We played in the 88th minute and Argentina was leading 2-1 against the Dutch who gave everything to equalize. That was the moment the meeting turned, when the n°5 violently resisted Nathan Aké. As if that wasn’t enough to upset the Oranges, Paredes followed by shooting the ball at full force… straight into the bench of the Dutch substitutes.

A nonsensical move that made the entire Dutch team jump. The substitutes started fighting Paredes. Captain Virgil van Dijk, 1.95m, saw red and sent the Argentinian flying to the ground with a blow from the chest. Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz had to work to calm things down. Leandro Paredes got a yellow card. Another one from his collection.

Virgil van Dijk (standing left) pushing Leandro Paredes after a dangerous move from him. REUTERS – BERNADETT SZABO

The International Football Federation did not like the performance. Before kick-off, the Argentinians were hurt by the harsh comments of Louis van Gaal, the Batavian coach. Leandro Paredes unpinned and behind, the two teams flowed into a hostile confrontation: 17 cards including a red, chambering the Argentine players after the shot on goal for the victory, dispute the length of the stadium between Messi and a Dutch player… FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against both teams. Focused on the Argentine Federation for possible violation of Articles 12 (Misconduct of Players and Officials) and 16 (Order and Security of the Match) “.

It’s soccer »

To lose control of the opponent by taking him to a dirty fight, that is also Leandro Paredes. A mastiff is also willing to jump to the defense of a tasked teammate. If he did not impose himself on Paris in the game, to the point of being sent to Juventus on loan this season, the midfielder is at least known for his tenacity. An attitude that has been missing from the Paris workforce since the departure of Thiago Motta.

The Argentinian is not the first player of this type – the Netherlands has long relied on Mark van Bommel, a reference on this matter – and there are other elements in his team that can do worse than him. But his “performance” on Friday brought old debates up to date. How far can you go to ruin a match? Does vice have a place on the football pitch? Is this a good example? Does the end justify the means? The pros and cons are grappling with questions that may not have clean, unique and clear answers.

The Argentinian team didn’t care at all. Asked at a press conference on Monday December 12, coach Lionel Scaloni avoided: ” The game was played as it should have been played. (…) This is football. There are times when you attack, others defend, and there are discussions, but there is a referee. »« Everyone should know how to win and know how to lose “, he added. Nicolas Tagliafico also spoke of the tensions of the previous match, especially the last chamber after the penalty shootout. ” It’s soccer “, he repeated. ” We are not machines. There are emotions, they happen. (…) That’s it, football, quarter-final… »

Perhaps that vice is an ingredient Argentina lack to win. After 18 years of scarcity and four losing finals, he lifted the Copa America last year. And 36 years after the last world title won by the late Diego Maradona, the Albiceleste are only two games away from a potential new title. And in the country, we can’t blame Leandro Paredes for his particular game when the World Cup is on.

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