Managers, backroom staff, and players of club sides all over Europe are currently neck-deep into their seasons and are all in on their respective targets until the World Cup begins.
With only 3 weeks or so remaining until the World Cup kicks off in Qatar, the focus is on finishing the first half of this one-off season on a high.
That’s what they would have you believe, however, a recent revelation from Julián Álvarez about an idle conversation between the manager and his players appears to bring out the eager anticipation that even a perfectionist like Pep Guardiola has for the quadrennial mega-event.
In an interview with ESPN, City’s summer acquisition Julián Álvarez has revealed that Guardiola has had his two pennies’ worth about who might go on to lift the coveted prize this winter. And it’s not his home country Spain!
In his interview, Álvarez said, “In one of my first days, there was Pep, and Rodri, and they talked about the teams that could win and I didn’t say anything. They said Portugal, France, all the teams from here in Europe and Pep says, do you know who has more chance?”
“When they didn’t say anything, he pointed at me”, said the former River Plate striker, referring to the fact that it were his compatriots who stood the best chance at bringing back their third World Cup according to Guardiola.
This must have been music to the ears of Álvarez, considering the fact that he himself believes that the Albiceleste are one of the tournament’s understated favorites, while everyone is waxing lyrical about France and Brazil.
“We are among the top three, four, five. In a World Cup, it is not easy, a game leaves you out, but I think we have what it takes”, said the 22-year-old, who has had quite a handy start to life at the Etihad, having scored 4 with the primary role of coming off the City bench.
Hearing one of football’s greatest proponents of the passing game agree with him about his nation’s chances must give him a lot of self-belief, after having been shown faith in his abilities by his national team coach as well.
Manager Lionel Scaloni, by all accounts, has been impressed enough with the young striker to keep him in the squad as well.
With this World Cup quite possibly being 7-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi’s last attempt at winning the elusive trophy, the hopes of an entire nation rest on the Argentine squad to keep the form they already have.
Argentina are currently unbeaten in 35 games, only 2 short of the record set by Italy.
24 of those games have been victories while only 11 have ended in stalemates.
Considering these numbers, it would certainly be hard to bet against Álvarez and his manager Pep Guardiola’s calls.