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04th Jul 2018

Only one Argentina player boarded the team plane home

Must have been a lonely flight back to Buenos Aires

Darragh Murphy

That’s one hell of a long flight to reflect on disappointment.

Only one Argentina player took advantage of the national team’s chartered plane to return to Buenos Aires after their Round of 16 elimination at the hands of France.

Enzo Perez was the sole member of the squad who boarded the team’s official flight home after their 4-3 defeat to Les Bleus, while his teammates all immediately travelled to destinations in Europe, either on holiday or to return to their clubs.

Independent sports editor Ed Malyon, who was close to the Argentina camp in Russia, revealed that Perez, who plays for River Plate, was the only passenger on board.

Under-fire Argentina manager Jorge Sampaoli has remained in Russia, reportedly to watch the likes of Brazil and Uruguay in preparation for next year’s Copa America, but it’s believed that his days in the job are numbered.

Sampaoli came in for criticism for apparently asking for the advice of Lionel Messi when making substitutions and the 58-year-old has admitted that the team lacked a clear vision in the tournament.

“I think that we adapted to necessity, maybe, rather than having a clear idea,” Sampaoli told the Independent.. “We had a clear need, we had to win. That was our main goal, and that was maybe stronger than our football concept. We had the best player in the world, and we had to try and create collective situations that allowed us to really use that player.

“We tried many different tactics: surrounding him, creating situations for him. We tried to use everything we had to allow him to do what he can do. We can analyse the structure and the performance, but I think there has been a development in this team. They fought until the very last minute and almost equalised at the end, and that’s what I really value.”