On Wednesday, Argentina proved why they're participating in the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar and last summer's European champions Italy are not. There was no real competition between Italy and Argentina as the South American champions -- coached by Lionel Scaloni and led on the pitch by a rousing performance by Lionel Messi -- made easy work of the Italians in a 3-0 win at Wembley Stadium in London.
Argentina broke the deadlock in the early part of the match, with Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez scoring the opening goal of the night. The Messi-Lautaro duo was once again clinical, with the Inter striker dishing out an assist to current free agent and former PSG midfielder Angel Di Maria, who scored an outstanding goal and ended Italy's dreams of winning the CONMEBOL-UEFA Cup of Champions trophy. Italy were dominated in the second half yet again by an Argentina side that probably wished the World Cup in Qatar started in the summer. They scored the final goal of the night in the last minute of the match, with Paulo Dybala finding the back of the net and securing a comfortable 3-0 win in the Finalissima.
For Italy, the loss will likely mark the end of this current cycle, which started in 2018 under Roberto Mancini and brought the Azzurri the UEFA Euro title last summer. After an incredible summer run in the Euros, Italy failed to qualify for the Qatar World Cup. It's the second straight World Cup in which the Italians have failed to qualify for and they will now go at minimum 12 years without playing a game in the World Cup. That's a bitter pill to swallow for a nation that has won three World Cups, and most recently in 2006.
that will be played this winter and won't play the major soccer tournament in the world for the second time in a row, after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup as well. Mancini will now have to hit the reset button as the Italian FA have backed his decision to stay in charge. Italy won't count anymore on captain Giorgio Chiellini, who gave his farewell to the national team after Wednesday's match.
On the other hand for Argentina, their confidence is through the roof as they are set to be one of the top candidates to win the World Cup following a 2021 Copa America triumph and Wednesday's CONMEBOL-UEFA Cup of Champions win over Italy. Messi will push his teammates in an effort to reach what would be a historic title to go along with the 1978 squad that won it at home and with the 1986 team led by Diego Armando Maradona. Winning against Italy showed to the world that Argentina are one of the teams to watch while Italy will have to find a way to restart in order to get back to their winning ways as soon as possible.