Coach Lionel Scaloni in the CONMEBOL Copa América2023-05-16
Lionel Scaloni’s successful career as the Argentine national team head coach began at the 2019 CONMEBOL Copa América and reached its first big moment in the 2022 edition. On May 16, 2023, the man known as ‘Leónidas de Pujato’ [‘Pujato’s Leonidas’] turns 45.
Promising third place
Argentina’s early results under Scaloni at the 2019 CONMEBOL Copa América in Brazil did not go as expected. They were beaten 2-1 by Colombia and couldn’t get any better than a 1-1 draw against Paraguay. They had to wait until the last round of the Group Stage to qualify, after defeating guest participant Qatar 2-0.
Argentina then beat Venezuela 2-0 in the quarter-finals, but in the semifinal they would face host Brazil, a match the Argentines failed to win.
Despite the defeat, Scaloni believed in a promising future. «Without a doubt, we showed that this group of players wears this jersey like no one else. We left an image for the future of this team and have a promising path to follow», commented the coach.
The Argentinian side confirmed their coach’s statements by beating Chile 2-1 in a hard-fought match for third place, a victory that made the crowd emotional and left Lionel firmly in charge for a new opportunity.
Champions at Maracanã
In 2021, Lionel Scaloni carried the weight of a country that dreamed of Messi lifting the CONMEBOL Copa América trophy, in a tournament that would again be held in Brazil. The team qualified in the Group Stage in first place, with a 1-1 draw against Chile, two 1-0 victories over Uruguay and Paraguay, and a 4-1 thrash of Bolivia.
The Argentines improved their game with each match. In the quarter-finals, they easily swept past Ecuador with a 3-0 victory. In the semis against Colombia, the match ended in a 1-1 draw and Argentina got the best of an epic penalty shootout, 3-2.
The 2021 CONMEBOL Copa América final was played at Maracanã Stadium against defending champions Brazil, who was looking to win their second consecutive title at home. But Scaloni’s players were determined to break the losing streak and regain the title after so many years.
In the end, the «Albiceleste» beat Brazil 1-0 in the final, with a goal by Ángel Di María, and won the CONMEBOL Copa América with Lionel Scaloni as their strategist and commander from the bench.
This title would be fundamental for the future of the national team, which went on to win the Finalissima and the FIFA World Cup under the leadership of Lionel Scaloni, a young man who achieved an unprecedented feat to any other Argentine coach: winning all possible titles with their national side.