Herve Renard, you bastard! Master stroke for a great feat

From our Special Envoy in Doha,

To err all along the line, allegory. Leaving the Lusail metro behind a procession of jubilant Argentines, we envisioned an easy match where the Albiceleste won the Argentinian brawl. The latter appeared in large numbers in the stadium, and it was certain that we would hear them shouting within two hours. Lies and lies again.

Overwhelmed by the amazing Saudi fans of acoustic power, the “Hinchas” not only suffered a monumental defeat in the stands, but Argentina was surprised on the ground, accepting a humiliating defeat. A scenario that no one has seen before. “I can’t believe it,” even 19-year-old Saudi fan Najab quipped at the end of the match. No one could believe it, except the main players of the match, Herve Renard, who was in front.

A king’s speech?

1-0 to Argentina at half-time and 56 goals disallowed for offside, the two-time Africa Cup of Nations winners certainly found the resources to deliver a General de Gaulle-worthy speech in perfect English. The cliché with an “R” everywhere, in a tirade unleashed on the internet after an afternoon win against Vietnam in September 2021. We take our hats off to the translator who was able to bring the intensity of Renard’s speech to life in all its drama. First calm, then possessed, then calm again. Mainly:

“We conceded a goal after three minutes [10 en réalité], this is football, it happens. It’s our fault. After that we pushed, pushed, pushed. We had chances, but not many. We don’t create enough intensity in duels, BOOM, MORE [on retranscrit pêle-mêle]. Then it’s your talent in possession that will make the difference. 45 minutes left. Stay confident. »

The difference in motivation

It was so fitting for today’s match that at first we thought it was the right speech. When the Argentines left, the Saudis entered the game. Scaloni’s men were taken aback by an opponent who must have been touched by sudden grace. It took just five minutes and two fine goals, especially the second, to topple the Cards home. A 36-game undefeated streak flies by with all the confidence we can have in this team. Of course, you can’t make hasty conclusions. In 2010, Spain fell from a height against Switzerland before bringing the trophy home. Argentina remains one of the favorites for this World Cup, but a joker grilled him.

More than a question of quality – it’s obvious that the most talented team lost on Tuesday – Hervé Renard points to a relevant theory about the motivational gap between the two teams. On the one hand, the South American elite are eager to enter their tournament well, but nothing else. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia is ready to battle with the “best player of all time” to master the Al-Shehri formula in the mixed zone. “Lionel Messi will say to himself against Saudi Arabia that I have to start the match well, of course… Renard explains. But his motivation will not be the same as when he played against Brazil. That’s normal.”

Tactical thoroughness and optimism

It would still be reductive to reduce Saudi success to the story of a galvanized group. Admittedly, the players fought like gladiators in the arena, made improbable decisive performances, released miraculous balls to the line and sometimes even showed excesses: six yellow cards and a defender were kicked. But at the same time, and above all, they showed remarkable tactical unity as a result of almost a month of preparation before the World Cup.

The 4-4-2, flexible in defense at five according to the phases, pushed to the climax. Herve Renard’s tactical precision is evident in the severity of his relatively honest analysis of the first 45 minutes. Again: “Tactically, we were not good in the first half. Our block was quite compact, but the pressure of the last two centers on Paredes was not enough. »

If he could, he would go and kick Paredes, Di Maria and Messi himself. He was excited to be out on the lawn, muscles bulging beneath his now traditional shirt. It was even believed that he would finally explode, waiting for three liberating whistles. A tension matched only by subsequent relaxation.

“We had a wonderful holiday in twenty minutes, that’s all. Saudi Arabia is not going to be satisfied with this. Whoever scores the first goal of the match lets you dream. “We have three points, we have two games. We have a chance to pass. Beating the competition favorite is a good boost. “You have to believe in yourself when you come to the World Cup,” Hervé Renard insists. Against Argentina, it paid off. And who knows how far that belief can take this team.

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