#16 // Banega → Messi Argentina 1 – 0 Nigeria


These teams arrive in Russia to spend a month on World Cup Island—with the potential to (a) be heroes; or (b) disappoint an entire nation.

Argentina, in the desperate throes of meltdown mode for an entire week, just turned a (b) into the biggest (a) around.



It would be three more years, everyone knows, until the trade winds blow the fog off this elusive World Cup Island, and they find their way back.

Maybe longer.

Maybe, though it’s not yet certain, without Lionel Messi.

And without him, we know how long it’ll be until they contend again.

So—this is it.

Day three of the group stage.

Elimination hovering over the entire morning.



On World Cup Island, you don’t get a second chance.

You show up with your clan, on this Russian soil, you set up camp, and you play ball.

If things go south, they go very south.

Like when Argentina lost 3-0 last week…

And everything looked lost.

Like a storm just hit World Cup Island, sweeping all their coconuts away. Killing all the fish. Uprooting the trees.

But, there was this one game left.

And there was a ball in the air from Ever Banega, to Lionel Messi.



Spotting Messi making a decoy, then a run, and feeding the ball on a perfect path through the air from midfield, over the entire defense, their back four spread out in a line.

And Messi—doing what he does.

Controlling Banega’s ball with a touch on the thigh, a touch on the foot, and then a brilliant shot with his right foot giving Argentina the lead.




So far, the mutiny is winning. And Argentina is saved.

They live to play another day.

And Messi’s legacy lives on.

If, somehow, he wins this thing…

Then he’s crowned king, forever.



I mean, just look at what this game did to Diego Maradona.

They cut to him in the crowd, after the second goal put Argentina back ahead—and he’s crossing his arms over his chest, professing ecstasy to the heavens, his soul exploding into the air around him, cocaine trickling out of his nostrils.

Completely… out of his mind.



And you feel, seeing that, seeing all of it…

Like you’re watching World Cup history.