Argentina triumphantly swept through the 2022 World Cup. After being defeated by Saudi Arabia, the Messi gang swallowed Mexico, Poland, Australia, the Netherlands, Croatia and France in turn, becoming world champions.
Now it will sound rather strange, but one of the main starting points for this championship was the injury of Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno, which he received at the end of the 2019/20 season.
“What connection?” – you ask. A little patience – now we will explain everything!
At the end of June 2020, Arsenal lost to Brighton (1:2). Leno (at that time the main keeper of the Londoners) was injured in that game after a collision with striker Neil Mope. Bernd considered that Mope had intentionally injured him, and in the style of Akinfeev, he reprimanded something threateningly to the Frenchman right from the stretcher.
Neil justified himself after the match. “I just wanted to play ball. I’m one of those players who doesn’t stop until the referee blows his whistle. In no case did I want to injure him, I apologized to the coach and his staff during the break. Arteta told me that this is football. He watched the replay and knows I didn’t mean to hurt. I wish Leno a speedy recovery,” Mope said.
Instead of Leno, the little-known 27-year-old Emiliano Martinez appeared on the field. Arteta was quite satisfied with Martinez’s game, and the Argentine spent the end of the season as the main goalkeeper.
On August 1, 2020, Martinez won the FA Cup by beating Chelsea in the final. After the whistle, Emiliano burst into tears, thinking that he would finally become the iron first number. Less than a month passed, and Amy took the second title – in the FA Super Cup, Arsenal defeated Liverpool on penalties.
But it was Martinez’s last match at Arsenal.
After beating Chelsea and Liverpool, Amy spoke to Mikel Arteta and the coach said he couldn’t guarantee anyone a start. “We took two titles, I played great, but can you assure me that I will be the main one on Saturday?” Emiliano recalled his thoughts.
Martinez was told there was a 95% chance of starting in the first leg of the new season against Fulham. “Why not 100?” echoed in Amy’s head. He just wanted to be finally trusted, so he wrote to Arteta: “Thank you for everything, but I’m leaving.”
Two and a half years have passed since then. Amy, as the main goalkeeper, spent two full seasons for Aston Villa and won everything that was possible with the Argentina national team: the America’s Cup, the Finalissima and the World Cup.
But Martinez made his debut for Argentina only 10 days before the start of the America’s Cup 2021. At the tournament itself, Amy excelled – he saved two shots in the post-match penalty shootout in the semi-final with Colombia, managing to get into the head of Davinson Sanchez and Yerry Mina.
And then there was the 2022 World Cup, where Amy not only pulled out two series, but also made monstrously important saves for Argentina at the end of matches with Australia and France.
Would the long-awaited title for Messi and all of Argentina have happened in December 2022 without Leno’s injury in the covid summer of 2020?