31-year-old goalkeeper Emi Martínez has always been known for his controversial behaviour that is intended to intimidate his opponents on and off the field, but one can never deny the shot stopper’s abilities when it comes to guarding the goal for club and country for Aston Villa and Argentina. Just hours ago, Emi Martínez set a new team record for the most minutes without conceding a single goal, after La Albiceleste secured a 1-0 small-margin victory against their South American oppositions Paraguay in Matchday 3 of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. The game meant Emi Martínez has not allowed anyone to score past him since the FIFA World Cup Final in Qatar last year.
Emi Martínez: Not Conceded a Single Goal for More Than 600 Minutes
Ever since French forward Kylian Mbappé score a hat-trick against him in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Final in Qatar, Emi Martínez stayed invincible in goal for Lionel Scaloni’s Argentina side in the following seven matches in all competitions. In those games played, La Albiceleste beat Panama, Curaçao, Australia and Indonesia in international friendlies, while the remaining matches saw them overcome Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay in the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. Considering most of these matches were won via a slight difference of 1-0 or 2-0, Emi Martínez certainly played a huge part in Argentina’s successes in the calendar year of 2023.
If we delve into Argentina’s seven-game winning streak since the winter FIFA World Cup in Qatar 2022, apart from the 7-0 thrashing over island country Curaçao, the 31-year-old Emi Martínez started and played the full 90 minutes plus added time for La Albiceleste in the other six matches, and they were won with the world no. 1 team not conceding a single goal. In other words, the Argentine shot stopper has not let anything go past him for over 600 minutes in an Argentina jersey, which happens to be a new record in the history of La Albiceleste.
Emi Martínez will have another chance of extending his record of 622 minutes without conceding a single goal a few days later, when Argentina travel to Estadio Nacional de Lima to face Peru for Matchday 4 of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in the CONMEBOL. Should the 31-year-old play the full 90 minutes plus added time, we could be looking at him not being scored at for more than 700 minutes of playing time in Argentina’s matches this year.
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Argentina Overcame Paraguay at Estadio Mâs Monumental, Fit-Again Messi Started From the Bench
Emi Martínez’s Argentina played fellow 2030 FIFA World Cup co-hosts Paraguay at their home of Estadio Mâs Monumental hours earlier, and the home side emerged victorious in the 1-0 match, thanks to 35-year-old Nicolás Otamendi’s effort in the third minute of the game. The former Manchester City man was one of ten players that were retained by manager Lionel Scaloni in his starting lineup against Bolivia in this match, whereas the most notable absentee in the first 11 was captain and seven-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi. The 36-year-old La Pulga was replaced by Inter Milan captain Lautaro Martínez, who recently made an Italian Serie A record of scoring four goals as a substitute.
The Messi-less Argentina drew first blood in less than 180 seconds into the game, when they were awarded a corner at the left flank. Rodrigo De Paul from Spanish La Liga side Atlético Madrid was the provider of this strike, when his set-piece delivery found his older compatriot Otamendi in the box. The 35-year-old then turned back the hands of time and hit an acrobatic volley into the back of the net, and there was nothing the opposing goalkeeper Carlos Coronel could do with the bounced shot.
Argentina may have 11 more shots than the visiting Paraguay, but Otamendi’s goal was the only one in the match, and Messi came on eight minutes after play was resumed in the following half to secure Argentina 13-game winning streak that started from their 2022 FIFA World Cup victory against Mexico late November. With the 1-0 victory against Paraguay, Emi Martínez’s and Messi’s side have also leapfrogged Brazil as the new CONMEBOL leaders in the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, since their arch-rivals were forced to leave Arena Pantanal with a 1-1 draw against Venezuela. Argentina next face Peru away from home on Tuesday.
Final. Argentina 1-0 Paraguay. La Albiceleste gets their first win against Paraguay in six years. Argentina defended as decent as they could and Paraguay showed a bit of spark in the second half but it wasn’t enough to get any dangerous opportunities onto goal. #CopaAmerica
— Roberto Rojas (@RobertoRojas97) June 22, 2021
Can Messi Win the 2023 Ballon d’Or?
Since Argentina’s captain Messi is unlikely to play another club game for his already-eliminated Inter Miami CF side in the 2023 Major League Soccer Season, the game between La Albiceleste and Peru is likely to be the 36-year-old’s final match ahead of the 2023 Ballon d’Or award ceremony. Held in Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris later this month, La Pulga will be eyeing for his eighth crown in this prestigious award ceremony, which will allow him to have three more than his arch-nemesis Cristiano Ronaldo. Nevertheless, the 2022 FIFA World Cup-winning skipper will face fierce competition this time around, mostly notably from continental treble-winning forward from Norway Erling Haaland and Messi’s former Paris Saint-Germain teammate and French captain Mbappé.
Stay tuned to OtherLeague.com as we will be your preferred platform for the winner announcement of the 2023 Ballon d’Or award ceremony. You can also check out our latest news and updates about other sports across the globe from time to time.