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He has Messi's back - the rapid rise of Alexis McAllister no longer red - sport

He has Messi’s back – the rapid rise of Alexis McAllister no longer red – sport


After a miserable start to the World Cup in Qatar, Argentina reached the semi-finals. Not least because of one no one on their list had.


It’s hard to stop

Argentina’s Alexis Mac Allister is a World Cup discovery.

Imago / Moritz Müller

Argentina dramatically failed at the start of the World Cup in Qatar, losing 2-1 to Saudi Arabia. Despite 3 points against Mexico in the last group match against Poland, it was said: no defeat. Even a draw was not a guarantee of the Round of 16. And so the Argentines pressed for the first goal with a power play. But Wojciech Szczesny seemed insurmountable. Albiceleste’s savior, Lionel Messi, missed a penalty kick. In the second half it was still 0-0.

So it was up to Alexis McAllister to lead the South Americans into calmer waters right after the break with a 1-0 goal – and a highlight for himself. With him, who had to pursue bankruptcy against Saudi Arabia from the bank, things clearly went uphill for the two-time world champion. McAllister played the full 120 minutes in the quarter-final against the Netherlands. He should also be seeded for the semi-final against Croatia after strong performances.

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You can follow the World Cup semi-final matches in Qatar between Argentina and Croatia on Tuesday from 8 pm live on SRF zwei and in the SRF Sport app.

Not many of them had the 23-year-old’s name and not at all a Latin American title name on their list beforehand. Mac Allisters is an institution in Argentine football: its brothers are professionals and still play at home; Center back Kevin – like Alexis once – for Argentinos Juniors, midfielder Francis for Rosario Central.

This also applies to Uncle Patricio and Father Carlos. The latter was also a national player in «Gauchos». He narrowly missed the 1994 World Cup in the United States. A week before the start of the tournament, Carlos McAllister was dropped from the team, despite being included on Panini’s album at the time. Former teammate Diego Maradona now sees his son Messi covering his back. How to fight the balls between the two penalty areas, and organize the match.

The exit of Giovani Lo Celso through injury made it possible for McAllister Jr. to play such a central role, who had not even worn an Argentina shirt for 400 minutes before the World Cup. The fact that it wasn’t nearly enough to land a management nomination is emblematic of a career that has never been linear. After joining Brighton & Hove in early 2020, it was almost a year before he became a regular.

His first call-up to the Argentine club did not go entirely smoothly: meeting Messi for the first time made him blush so much that others in the team immediately nicknamed him “Colo” – meaning “red face”. But La Pulga stepped in and commanded: “He doesn’t like it, so don’t call him that!”

Incidentally, Mac Allister celebrates his 24th birthday on Christmas Eve. He would be happy to do so as a world champion. At least in his home country, he’ll then be more of an Advent season presence than his almost namesake Kevin “Home Alone” McCallister.