At just 24 years old, Julián Álvarez has a successful career that many footballers would like to have. Without going any further, the forward from Calchín, Córdoba, won practically everything that any player aspires to, both at the club level and with the Argentine National Team: World Cup, Copa América, Copa Libertadores, Club World Cup and Premier League, in addition to the Finalissima, the Argentine championship, the Argentine Cup and an FA Cup, among other titles.
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As a review, five key moments can be identified in the unbridled career of the Spider, a nickname given to him by his family since he was little: from his debut in the Copa Libertadores in the final between River and Boca in Madrid, through an epic night in the Monumental and his dream match with six goals, until his consecrating match in the World Cup and his arrival at Manchester City.
Debut in Copa Libertadores, in the Madrid final
Julián Álvarez's debut in the Copa Libertadores was on December 9, 2018. Far from being an inconsequential match, it was in the final between River Plate and Boca Juniors at the Santiago Bernabéu in Madrid, Spain. The forward came on in place of Exequiel Palacios six minutes into extra time, when the match was tied 1-1.
Julián ÁLvarez with the 2018 Copa Libertadores in Madrid. Photo: Instagram @juliaanalvarez
“It was very important because it was the first cup. I had only a few days as a professional player. I remember that I had been training with the squad for less than a month and the two finals of the Libertadores against Boca were just taking place. I had to go to the bench in both games. The second was a long game because there was overtime and I played for a while. “I think it was the most important final in the history of South American football,” he said in an interview with Manchester City's official channel.
La Araña had had his official presentation at the Núñez club just over a month ago, more precisely on October 27, 2018, when he started in the 1-0 victory against Aldosivi at the Monumental. Since then, and until the final in Madrid, he only played three other games: one against Estudiantes and two against Gimnasia y Esgrima La Plata (one for the Professional League and another for the Argentine Cup). In the last one, against Lobo, he scored his first goal in Primera.
The epic night
One of the most epic nights of Marcelo Gallardo's cycle occurred on May 19, 2021 when River, with 20 casualties due to coronavirus, had to put Enzo Pérez as an improvised goalkeeper and debut two youth players in the confrontation against Independiente Santa Fe for the fifth date of the group stage of the Copa Libertadores.
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Against all odds, the Millionaire won 2-1 at the Monumental. One of the great protagonists was Julián Álvarez, who scored one of the best goals of his career: he controlled a long delivery from Héctor David Martínez with his back with his chest and took a strong half-turn shot with his left foot.
The six goals against Alianza Lima
On May 25, 2022, River celebrated the 121st anniversary of its founding with an 8-1 win over Alianza Lima at the Monumental, for the last date of the group stage of the Copa Libertadores. That night, all the flashes were taken by Julián Álvarez.
The young striker scored no more and no less than six goals. In this way, he became the first player in the entire history of the club to score six goals in the same game. In addition, he surpassed his own record of four goals, which he had achieved six months ago, on November 7, 2021, against Patronato.
Qatar 2022 World Cup – The semi-final with Croatia
Although in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar Lautaro Martínez was the starting nine for the Argentine National Team, Julián Álvarez moved the Inter striker to the substitute bench and earned a place among the starting 11 based on sacrifice and goals.
His first game since the start was on the third and final date of the group stage against Poland, where he scored the second goal of the 2-0 victory. In the round of 16, in the 2-1 victory against Australia, he also scored a goal.
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His breakthrough match came in the semi-finals against Croatia, a match in which he scored a double. At 35 minutes into the first half he caused a penalty that Lionel Messi converted into a goal. Four minutes later, he starred in an unstoppable run: he started behind midfield and did not stop until the six-yard box, benefiting from a series of rebounds.
At 25 minutes into the second half he established the final 3-1. He barely had to push the ball, since Messi assisted him after an impressive play in which he made Joško Gvardiol, one of the best defenders in the World Cup who was later bought by Manchester City in exchange for 100 million euros, dance.
Another of the key moments in Julián Álvarez's career was his arrival at Pep Guardiola's Manchester City. He landed at the English club in July 2022 in exchange for 24.2 million dollars.
One of Julián Álvarez's 30 goal celebrations for Manchester City. (Photo: Reuters)
Despite competing with the Norwegian Erling Haaland, one of the best center forwards in the world, the native of Calchín had a leading role. So far he has played 79 games, in which he scored 30 goals and distributed 15 assists. In addition, he became the youngest Argentine to score a goal in the Champions League semifinals, scoring 4-0 against Real Madrid at the age of 23 years, 3 months and 17 days.
In terms of titles, he achieved it all: Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League and European Super Cup. He also won the Club World Cup by beating Fluminense 4-0 in the final, in a match in which he scored a double.