Leo Messi and Argentina dominate Italy in 3-0 ‘Finalissima win
Argentinian dominance spoils Giorgio Chiellini's send off.
On a Wednesday night in Wembley all fans who were present and those who watched on TV around the world got to witness an intriguing display of football that also carried with it a heavy piece of context.
Where Argentina was concerned, the South American champions orchestrated a lesson in 'playing out of the back' as they constantly created space when there was none with tidy one touch football in the confines of their own defense. Try as they might the Italians were never able to stop it from happening and in stead were punished on numerous occasions for succumbing to the temptation of over commitment.
Indeed each of Argentina's goals essentially started with them playing out of the back after intense pressure before unleashing Messi or in other cases Lautaro Martinez on their opponents.
As for Italy, it was perhaps a demonstration in why they will be missing this summer's World Cup. Defensively, veterans Bonucci and Chiellini were not their usual selves, often making naive decisions that resulted in loss of possession constantly. That in fact is probably what led to Roberto Mancini's decision to remove Chiellini at the half which of course left the captain looking truly dejected. Without doubt there will be more comment on the sad end to his international career in the coming days as it was known before a ball was kicked that this would be his final game in the famous blue jersey of his country.
The 'Albiceleste will have to feel positively about their chances this summer if they can continue to replicate the kind of performance that they put in tonight. For now all we can do is watch and wait.
Better late than never!
If you're just joining us then yes it's true, you missed the game. That being said a warm welcome to you from us here at AS USA!
Also you can count yourself lucky because you can take a look through our text coverage which will bring you right up to speed. In the end it was a 3-0 win for Argentina who got the better of Italy and then some, but it was the manner of the victory which will leave many talking rather than the score itself!
The referee has blown his whistle and the Argentinian celebrations have begun. The Italians are clearly not happy with the result and from the looks of it, least of all is Giorgio Chiellini. A sad end to an enviable career.
In truth the result was never truly in doubt as the Albiceleste controlled the entire match.
With what was essentially his first touch, Dybala pings the ball in off of the right side far post from just inside the area. His opportunity came after yet another Messi drive through the middle of the defense. With that this match is now well and truly over!
A long pass from Bonucci goes begging and Argentina will restart with a throw. Messi is given the ball, but quickly crowded out as we enter the final minute of stoppage time.
To their credit the Italians are still attempting to get something out of this game. Jorgihno is trying to drive his team forward
There will be four minutes of stoppage time in this one.
We are in the 90th minute and the score stands at 2-0 in favor of Argentina!
Argentina will make two more subs, albeit ceremonial ones. Paulo Dybala will enter for Lo Celso and Nicolás González will enter for Angel Di Maria
Argentina continues to look for more, especially Leo Messi who is constantly being selected as the protagonist by his teammates.
We're approaching the 90th minute and it looks like this one will end as it stands. the Italians have descended into ill discipline at this point and the Argentinians appear to be content to continue provoking them.
Argentina with two changes: Germán Pezzella will enter for Cristian Romero and Lautaro Martinez will leave the field in exchange for Julian Alvarez
Di Maria slows down a counter attack as he finds no help, but the move allows the Italians to recover. Argentina choose to play the ball home and rebuild from their defense.
Messi drives through the middle of the field and plays a pass to the right sided Lo Celso. The latter obliges by playing it back to his captain who is clearly intent on getting his name on the score sheet, but his left footed shot is blocked and the Italians escape.
After a 'dummy' by Messi in the box Lo Celso receives in acres of space with a clear look at the goal, but his shot is blocked eventually and the Albiceleste are forced to go back after regaining possession. Here we go again.
With 10 minutes now left in the match, will we be in for any surprises or simply more of the same?
Argentina will restart with a free kick after an unnecessary foul on Lautaro
Gianluca Scamacca is clearly offside though the pass to find him from Barella was impressive.
Nicolo Barella is booked for a cynical challenge on Di Maria. The Italians appear to be losing their cool in these late stages.
Italy with another change. Emerson will leave the field of play in exchange for Alessandro Bastoni
Argentina with their first change of the night. Rodrigo De Paul is going off after an impressive night and Ezekiel Palacios of River Plate will enter.
Messi is everywhere now and even assisting in the constant defensive pressure that Argentina is still managing to maintain at this late stage. Italy has never quite got accustomed to it tonight.
In the end Messi shoots too high and it will be an Italy goal kick.
Messi lines up the ball for the resulting free kick which is from a very dangerous position on the left side of the box.
The crowd is chanting "Ole" with each pass. Messi is at the center once again weaving and winding his way through the defense. In the end the Italians refuse to tolerate it and Di Lorenzo is given a card for his troubles.
Messi is now most definitely in his stride and his teammates are looking for him constantly as they know what the little man is capable of when he's in the mood.
Italy restart, but a long ball goes to waste as Martinez collects in his area. The Keeper plays a delightful long ball to Lautaro who finds Messi. The latter unleashes a fierce effort, but his PSG teammate in Italy's goal manages to save!
A heavy foul on Jorgihno by Messi. The Argentinian captain is lucky to not be booked by the referee.
Argentina restart with a throw and Messi is the recipient. Once again the captain looks for an opportunity to score, but is forced onto his right foot - the weaker one - just outside the area. His shot is comfortably collected by Italy's keeper.
Argentina retains possession and once again Messi is one the ball. The little magician is clearly in the mood now.
Messi drives at the Italian defense after robbing Jorgihno of the ball in midfield. The Argentinian star chooses to go it alone and drives a shot towards goal but Donnarumma deflects it for a corner. Messi waits for the short ball and plays it out.
In what would have been Argentina's 3rd goal of the match, a well worked move by Messi is judged to be offside after Lo Celso had received his captain's pass at the back post and guided it into the net.
We're now in the final half hour of the match and the score is still 2-0. The Italians for their part are trying, but by all indications have met a team that appears to be superior on the night, or at the very least.
A long deep ball is played by Messi to a waiting Angel Di Maria who volleys down the center with a powerful one time shot from outside the box. It would have been a candidate for goal of the year were it not for a well placed Donnarumma who catches it.
The corner is cleared but Italy are unable to escape and suffer a second corner. Messi to take!
An in perfect pass to the right wing from Otamendi, finds Di Maria in stride. The PSG winger then cuts inside and curls a ball to the left far post, which Donnarumma just manages to save! There will be a corner!
Locatelli with a shot, but unfortunately it is deflected, Martinez collects with ease and restarts by playing the ball to the right side of his defense. Again Argentina show an ability to patiently bring the ball out of their own defense.
Rodrigo DePaul suffers a heavy foul in midfield, but appears to be OK to continue.
According to the board, there have been 6 shots from Argentina and 5 from Italy, but it's clear who has made them count.
In a moment of clear confusion Bonucci passed a wayward ball back to his goalkeeper who had to scramble to clear the ball from his line, only just.
Bonucci makes a fantastic play in the middle of defense by dismissing an oncoming attacker, but then promptly passes the ball out of bounds. The Azzuri will have to do better if they are to get something from this game.
Italy appear more composed following their capitulation towards the end of the first half, but the score remains the same. For the moment they are playing the ball left to right while looking for an opening.
Locatelli's introduction to the match has definitely injected some desire into the Italians. Since his arrival he's been at the center of everything positive for the Italians as he's taken a more direct approach.
We are off and running again and one of the other Italian substitutions is trying to get involved. Manuel Locatelli is doing his best to harry and harass.
Chiellini's last a disappointing goodbye
The teams are back on the field, but in the process of making changes. For Italy there will be a significant change in that Manuel Lazzari will enter for Giorgio Chiellin.
This is in fact the veteran's very last game for the Azzuri making it all the more sad as he is unceremoniously substituted at the half in what is so far a losing effort for his team. A storied career the captain has had and as such will surely be disappointed that this is the way it ends.
Have a look at the opening exchanges and the first goal!
If you'd like to see how Messi's magic worked, just have a look right here!
Welcome to our coverage of Italy vs Argentina
If you've just joined us then let us welcome you to our live text coverage here on AS USA of the 'Finalissima' between Italy and Argentina.
It's been an exciting but tense first half with Argentina finally getting on the scoreboard with a typical piece of Messi magic. The little magician got the best of his defender before crossing the ball in front of goal to a waiting Lautaro Martinez. 1-0.
It was then Martinez's turn to be provider after his brilliant run and through ball to Angel DiMaria, who thanked him be bearing down on Donnarumma in Italy's goal and then chipping the ball over his PSG teammate into an open net. 2-0.
It's Half Time!
With the score at 2-0 in favor of Argentina we can focus on a few take aways during the break:
Firstly it's most definitely interesting to see the manner in which the Argentinians are playing defense vs the Italians. Traditionally known for impenetrable defenses, the Azzuri have struggled to deal with Messi, DiMaria and Lautaro, while the Albiceleste have actually been putting on a clinic in defense as opposed to their normal attacking flair!
It should also be said that on offense, the Italians have at times seemed out of ideas, often opting for long searching balls as opposed to relying on the play making ability of players like Jorgihno and Barella.
Sensational! Out of nowhere Lautaro drives through midfield before playing through Angel DiMaria with a deft pass to the top of the box. The PSG winger's speed is well documented and he didn't disappoint as he got in one on one with Donaruma before chipping the ball over the helpless keeper with the outside of his boot!
Barella with a foul on Messi who complains to the referee that something must be done as the actions are constant.
Again the Italians are proving but Argentina's compact formation is proving impregnable.
Italy restarts with a throw and Emerson who attempts to drive down the wing is hauled down. The Azzuri will have a freekick.
It should be said that Argentina are putting on an exhibition in how to work the ball out of small spaces in defense. A lesson which the Italians for their part do not seem to be learning from.
Italy have raised the tempo and seem to be looking to close the half strongly, but Argentina dispossess them and Barella is left no choice but to commit a foul in midfield.
Finally Messi is back on his feet and the crowd applauds. The World's best player is still rubbing his jaw where he was struck, but seems ready to go once again.
Messi is on the ground after an elbow to the face by Bonucci. While it appears to have been without ill intent the little maestro is in visible pain and has still not stood up.
Argentina to restart with a throw, but are quickly dispossessed.
Again Argentina place their entire 11 behind the ball and in their own half, making life very difficult for Italy. There is a brief moment of daylight and the Azzuri manage a cross which Belotti is just unable to get his head to.
Jorgihno attempts a dinked pass into the box, but once again Martinez in Argentina's goal is alert to the danger and collects, before restarting the game with a long kick. There is an immediate foul committed by Lo Celso
Argentina for the moment seem content to play the ball around in their own defense, but they are almost caught napping and will now have a throw from the left side of their defense.
a foul on Martinez in midfield by Jorgihno. The Latter is not pleased with the referee's decision and makes sure that the official knows it. Chelsea's man will want to tread carefully as it's not his first warning.
DiMaria is on the ground for the time being after a heavy clash in midfield. It looks like he's good to go and the Italians restart with a throw.
Italy are no probing between the lines of an Albiceleste team that has everyone behind the ball for the moment. A seamless switch from attacking to defense.
The Argentine fans are in full song now as their warriors appear to be hitting their stride. How will the Azzuri respond?
With the complexion of the match now changed, the Italians will have no choice but to become more adventurous in their play.
GOAL! Messi was at it once again. The magician managed to break free of the defense and was allowed to square the ball for a waiting Lautaro Martinez who obliged by putting it over the line with the outside of his boot. 1-0 Argentina!
A dangerous corner from Messi, but Italy manage to clear. Messi is given the ball once again and plays a second cross into the box, which is cleared, but there is a foul committed by the offense and Italy will live to fight another day once again.
Messi with a little day light is allowed to shoot from distance, but his shot is blocked and there will be a corner. Argentina to take.
The Alibiceleste clear the corner but are under pressure again. Leo Messi, however, comes to the rescue in defense - don't see that often - and is eventually fouled by Chielini. Argentina to restart with a free kick.
The Italians free kick is driven into the wall and the follow up shot is deflected out for a corner. Argentina under pressure now.
The games first card is given to Nicolas Otamendi for his heavy challenge on an Italian. The Azzuri will once again have a free kick only this time much closer.
Belotti once again the protagonist as he heads the ball off of the free kick, his attempt, however, is claimed comfortably by Emiliano Martinez in Argentina's goal.
The corner is cleared out of the area only to be recollected by Emerson who attempts to chip the ball into the area, but it is handled by an opponent. Italy will have the free kick from distance.
After an exceptional lobbed pass into the box, Belotti receives and tries to square the ball across the face of goal, but it is cleared for a corner.
Where the Italians are concerned, they have shown greater poise, but have been unable to create any real threat on the Argentinian goal.
With 60% of the possession so far Argentina is certainly controlling the rhythm of the match at this point, but much of that has been in their own half as they continually fall apart when in the attacking third.
Belotti 's rough and tumble game is causing the Argentine defense a fair share of issues. The Torino forward is most definitely a handlful
For the moment it would appear that the Italians are the better side. They have been calmer in their possession and resolute in their defending, affording no space to Argentina. The question is will it last?
The first real opportunity of the game falls to Italy as Jorgihno swivels and shoots from distance but Argentina's keeper is able to deal with the threat.
Able to finally break free, the Argentinians are surging forward but again broken up by the Italian defense.
the Italians are now employing a very high line which seems to be causing an issue for the Albiceleste as they try to work the ball out of their own defense.
the initial intensity of the opening exchanges has seemingly died down a touch, but you can tell these teams are up for it tonight.
Messi is once again the target of a long searching pass, but he's dispossessed by Emerson.
Messi is being tightly marked at this point, with the Italians committing no less than two markers to the little magician every time he receives the ball.
Messi's effort is blocked by the wall and Argentina retreats to their own goal. Off they go again.
Messi over the ball awaits the ref's whistle.
Messi with his first moment of magic dismisses his first marker before being felled by Jorgihno. Free kick to Argentina from a dangerous spot and Messi stands over the ball
After a long clearance upfield the Italians have their chance to start again from the back and so they do, but are immediately closed down, forcing a retreat.
The Italians will get things going once again with a throw. For the moment the teams appear to be feeling each other out. Argentina regains possession and plays the ball home where they delay for a few seconds before beginning again.
DiMaria with an ambitious long range effort from almost the half line, but Donaruma is alert to the danger that wasn't.
As expected the game has started with a high tempo with both teams refusing to hold back in their defensive challenges.
Away we go!
Argentina starts with the ball and off we go!
The Italians are in their traditional blue jerseys and Argentina in their iconic baby blue and white stripes. The 'Albiceleste' will be hoping to start their preparation for the FIFA 2022 World Cup in Quatar on the right foot, while the 'Azzuri' will surely be hoping to begin the rebuilding process in the best way possible.
If you'd like to watch be sure to check in with us!
The teams are on the field!
As both teams make there way out onto the field for the playing of the national anthems, you can feel the anticipation. The size of the crowd and the excitement in the air is perhaps befitting of a real tournament, but don't tell that to the players.
Again, expect fireworks in this one with a trophy on the line and a lot of history to be made, it's almost assured that Italy vs Argentina won't disappoint.
There is definitely history between these two!
In case you were wondering how things break down between these two titans of world football, have a look!
The teams are in the tunnel!
Hugs and had shakes are being exchange, but one can expect it won't be so friendly in a matter of minutes when the game kicks off. From the looks of it we've got a full house in Wembley tonight so sit back and let us guide you through all of the action!
A look at the lineups for tonight's big game!
Leo Messi will join Inter Milan's rising star Lautaro Martinez in attack, making for an interesting exchange between the GOAT and the young gun.
Sadly it's two in a row for Italy
Having previously only ever missed a World Cup in 1958 and recently in 2018, Italy are definitely among the top nations of world football, however, it's that most recent World Cup absence that makes 2022's all the more painful. Indeed Italy are now set to miss their second consecutive World Cup meaning the likely end of an era for quite a few of their players.
With that said, the 'Azzuri' are not actually the only team to have achieved the less than ideal accolade. There was France who did it in 1970 and 1974, then once again for good measure in 1990 and 1994. We also have Spain who flopped in 1954 and 1958, as well as in 1970 and 1974. Then perhaps we have the most dubious of all which was England who actually won the tournament in 1966, but went on to miss the next two World Cups in 1974 and 1978 respectively.
Can the Italians take heart in that they are not alone on the list? Maybe, but rest assured their minds will be set squarely on keeping Leo Messi and Co. quiet on a night when they look to prove they can still tussle with the best.
How can it be that Italy won the Euros but aren't going to the FIFA World Cup?
If you've been wondering, as incredible as it may seem the unfortunate circumstances have actually occurred before. That's right we've had a number of teams who were raining European Champions who then went on to fail in their quest for World Cup qualification just a short time later.
Czechoslovakia for example didn’t qualify for the 1974 World Cup, but then went on to surprise the continent when they won the Euros in 1976, however, they then fell short of qualification for the big event in 1978.
Then there was the famously stellar performance of Denmark at the Euros of 1992 where they were crowned kings only to miss out on the World Cup on American soil in 1994.
Most recently we had Greece who took home the trophy in 2004 after breaking Portuguese hearts only to embark on a dismal qualifying campaign for 2006 World Cup in South Korea and Japan. This is all to say that while it's shocking to see a team of Italy's caliber miss out on football's biggest fiesta, it's not unheard of.
Behold the 'Finalissima' trophy
With silverware on the line, expect this classic match to be a firecracker of a game!
Wembley is ready and so are we!
With kickoff set for 19:45 p.m. GMT. and Wembley the scene. It's all systems go as we prepare for the 'Finalissima' between Italy and Argentina!
Can Italian pragmatism and defense get the better of an Argentina team that is beginning to show itself more than just Leo Messi and others? Stay with us for our live coverage to find out!
Welcome to AS USA and our live coverage of
Firstly let's give you a warm welcome to our live text coverage here on AS USA. Today's match promises to be an extremely exciting affair. Known as the 'Finalissima,' we have the champions of Europe facing off against the champions of South America in an age old contest that is often about more than just bragging rights.
In this edition of the famous match it will be the "Azzuri" of Italy taking on the "Albaceleste" of Argentina which is to say Roberto Mancini's men will be heading into battle against Leo Messi and his brothers in arms.
Interestingly there is the added context of the fact that the Italians are set to miss out on this summer's World Cup, creating a definitive need to show the world that it was an unfortunate mishap. Also let's not forget there is Silverware up for grabs in this one!