Italy 0-3 Argentina: Messi and Martinez inspire Albiceleste to Finalissima win

Ryan Benson
Stats Perform
Di Maria scored Argentina's second in style
Di Maria scored Argentina's second in style

Argentina made an early statement of intent ahead of the World Cup with an impressively dominant 3-0 win over Italy to win the UEFA/CONMEBOL Finalissima at Wembley.

Although Italy failed to qualify for Qatar 2022, few would have expected the European champions to be so stunningly outclassed by the Copa America 2021 winners.

Much of the pre-game focus was on Giorgio Chiellini, but the last game of his distinguished international career ended at half-time with Argentina deservedly 2-0 up thanks to goals from Lautaro Martinez and Angel Di Maria.

Italy somehow prevented the inspired Lionel Messi and Di Maria adding more gloss to the scoreline, but Paulo Dybala finally got their third with the last kick of the game.

A brilliant intervention by Cristian Romero had earlier denied Andrea Belotti a simple finish in the 20th minute, with the striker then seeing a looping header saved by Emiliano Martinez a few moments later.

But Argentina soon took charge.

Messi wonderfully turned away from Giovanni Di Lorenzo and held him off before passing across goal for Martinez to tap home.

The Inter forward then turned provider on the stroke of half-time, spinning Leonardo Bonucci and feeding Di Maria, who lifted an audacious chip over the helpless Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Roberto Mancini made three changes at the break but if anything Argentina only became more dominant – Donnarumma desperately scurried back to stop a Bonucci back-pass going in, before importantly denying the excellent Di Maria twice.

Giovani Lo Celso then missed an open goal – albeit from a slightly tight angle – after great work by Messi, who subsequently tested Donnarumma twice.

But Donnarumma was eventually beaten again at the end, substitute Dybala finding the bottom-right corner after a solo Messi run terrified the Italy defence.

What does it mean? World Cup contenders take note

Even with their Copa America success last year, there remained a sense that Argentina were not yet considered to be among the favourites for Qatar 2022 – at least, not like France, Spain or even England.

But this will have caused a few people to sit up and take note. Of course, as previously mentioned, this is an Italy side that will not be in Qatar, but we should not forget they were impressively crowned European champions less than a year ago, and yet Argentina genuinely could have beaten them by five or six goals.

In what was the first CONMEBOL/UEFA 'Cup of Champions' since 1993, Argentina undoubtedly made something of a statement with a performance that saw them blend rampant attacking football with exceptional organisation. It has been a while since Argentina could consistently do that.

Di Maria shows his class

He may have been somewhat overshadowed at Paris Saint-Germain in the past few years, but this performance was a timely reminder of the havoc Di Maria could cause with Juventus next season if he joins. His goal was typically stylish, but that was just the tip of the iceberg as he rolled back the years.

Donnarumma tries to prevent embarrassment

Had Italy named a poorer goalkeeper between the posts, there is every reason to suggest Argentina could have scored double the goals. Donnarumma did little wrong and produced some good saves, but he was not given much help by the 10 players in front of him.

What's next?

Argentina now head to Pamplona for a friendly against Estonia on Sunday, while Italy begin their Nations League campaign at home to Germany the day before.

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ItalyArgentina
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