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QATAR 2022: Messi is still the best but Julian Alvarez holds the key to a World Cup triumph for Argentina

Argentina looked ponderous and ineffective against Saudi Arabia but Julian Alvarez ignited their attack to make them true contenders.

Julian Alvarez has become a key man for Argentina at the World Cup

Argentina came into this World Cup with huge expectations. Along with Brazil, they were widely regarded as favorites for the Mundial. On the back of a 36-game unbeaten run, it was clear they had found the perfect recipe for success leading up to the tournament in Qatar.

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They had a clear plan at center forward, Lautaro Martinez was the first-choice striker and it made sense given that he had scored seven goals in his 15 league appearances for Internazionale this season. However, in his first two World Cup starts, he failed to hit a shot on target or even create a goalscoring opportunity.

Martínez was then dropped for the crucial group match against Poland and the last-16 tie against Australia. His only appearances since then have come off the bench and he has been even far less impressive in those cameos, somehow managing to miss three big chances.

Since the introduction of Julian Álvarez into the starting eleven, the Argentina attack has looked a whole lot sharper and he has scored twice in his two starts. Lautaro Martínez is more of an out-and-out goalscorer, but Álvarez has the ability to play across the frontline and do a job for his team

Since Alvarez took over the starting spot, Argentina have had more shots and scored more goals. In their first two games, 43.5% of their shots were from outside the box and that figure has dropped to 17% in their last two matches, which means they are creating better goalscoring chances.

The best way for Argentina to achieve success is to ensure Messi has as much freedom as possible and Álvarez has made things move more freely with his pressing and tireless running. Messi is still the best player in the world but Álvarez is ensuring that the little Maestro enjoys one last dance.

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