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All or nothing


The Argentine writer Martín Caparrós and the Mexican Juan Villoro maintain a correspondence throughout the tournament and confirm that the ball also knows a lot about friendship

Coach Lionel Scaloni, in the background, and Lionel Messi, star of the Argentine national team, in Doha, this Friday. JUAN MABROMATA (AFP)

Pass to Villoro backwards:

You treat me, Your Excellency, rightly and wrongly, depressed and sad.

And, to support it, you pair me with a pair of Portuguese that no one ever thought of pairing: Ronaldo who, as you say, plays –and lives– for his own mirror, and Pessoa, who feared or hated him so much that he spent his life trying to be another.

Today I am closer to Pessoa than to Cristiano: he would prefer to be someone else, not this one who should answer you without many arguments.

You saddle me with your sadness and compel me to console you for it.

It won't be me, it won't be me, it won't be me, anxious as I am that tomorrow your unease reaches unfathomable abysses.

That's what friends are for, my friend: to allow the ones you love to reach the bottom and, from there, reemerge impetuous, sparkling with renewed energy.

Or maybe not, but you know: your sadness tomorrow will be my joy.

Sometimes it happens, and I can't find a way to hide it.

Today's sadness, on the other hand, has to do, you tell me, with a discovery: that the Great Captain Leo Messi was not pure football, mere football, someone to whom nothing else matters, but a man capable of selling his facing one of the worst dictatorships on the planet.

Sign of the times: since I wrote it, so many have said to me “so what if they give you good money…” How was it that we managed to reach this extreme simplification and adapt to living in it?

To a planetary religion with a single god that we all adore, so devoid of atheists?

The explanations are, if anything, political, and I think that politics had not been so present in a World Cup for a long time: complaints, bracelets, muzzles, convictions.

Is it because it is so absent from where it should be?

Or is it the misperception of a little stray group, a few who care about this nonsense?

A minor – very minor – example would be the great Neymar.

This Thursday, in an entertaining match, Serbia followed the Argentine-German example: the previous runner-up managed to lose with the sixth, in another attack against the hierarchies.

(Remember that little song from May 1968 that said, in French, that “hierarchy/ is like shelves/ the higher/ the less useful”? We are proving it.)

But hey, Neymar.

You know he walked off the pitch with a pudgy, chipped ankle, and you also know that he had promised that he would dedicate his first goal to his country's future authoritarian macho militaristic yuck ex-president, the deadly Bolso Naro.

Is that promise / threat enough to want his ankle to leave him in dry dock until the holidays?

Ah, did you want to score a baggy goal?

Well look, you can't anymore.

If we said it, what would we be saying, that it is the just punishment for their horrifying position or that their leader is yeta or jerk or jinx?

Or, in reality, would we justify, under the pretext of ethics, the envious happiness that Brazil, the eternal enemy, does not continue to improve?

Is that why we also use politics?

Are we glad that the adversary is half-facho as our adversaries are surely glad to see Messi sell himself to the worst,

All this to tell you that I admire and denounce your dialectical somersault on the matter: now, tomorrow's unthinkable Mexican triumph would be justified because the very Messi gave his image to some murderers, even worse than Bolso.

And that even so, you say, the Mexicans would be ashamed to leave it out.

Because tomorrow, we know, Argentina will play it face or tail, life or death, all or nothing.

(How we like those situations in which everything seems to be decided definitively. It is one of the great attributes of football. In life those moments are very rare: in general, the processes give mixed effects and one does not quite know if what happened to them it suits him at all: what is the result. Something can be good for such, bad for what, indifferent to this or the other. In football, on the other hand, the result is one and it is clear:

You either lost or won or tied.

It is one of its great attractions: in a confusing world it offers a refuge of well-defined clarity.


But don't worry: that triumph will not happen.

Yes, I know, it is the great Mexica opportunity to avenge history.

History never matters to us more than when we manage to read it as an accumulation of grievances that we will someday punish.

You and your compatriots already have enough: I don't even remember the number of times we left you out.

As in many of the best stories, the general story can be condensed into an individual story: that of Rogelio Funes Mori, a thirty-year-old from Mendoza who plays nine, who did not do well in Argentina, emigrated, did better in Mexico and Now he plays for his national team and dreams of scoring a goal tomorrow – which he is going to celebrate, he says, “with a crazy shout” – to take revenge on the country that despised him.

Any resemblance to our national football relationships is not coincidental.

Yes, tomorrow you could achieve the great revenge: the worst argent fall in history.

I think it's too great a responsibility and they're going to get overwhelmed.

Does the verb abatatar exist in Mexican?

It is pretty, expressive, almost childlike, and therefore unquestionably cruel.

It means inhibiting, paralyzing in the face of a situation that overwhelms and surpasses you.

Depressed, then, by the enormous of the possibility, your greens will lose and, even so, they will be able to qualify if they do not do everything wrong.

Meanwhile, I'll give you more reasons: the Argentine team is going to change four or five players, but that's a detail.

You will have already noticed that all the Argentine players had the same haircut.

There is the key.

It is, I suspect, one of those spells or cabals that overflow the Río de la Plata.

And, massive as it is, it's clearly more than enough to beat them handily.

And even, risking: if it is not enough to win the World Cup, it is because God has also ceased to be Argentine.

Or who knows the Devil or, now, Messi through, Allah and his prophet.

So here I wait for you.

Sadness for the Little Captain should turn into joy for him – anger, in your case – when, instead of selling himself, he takes revenge with goals.

Argentina, they tell me, is paralyzed in that wait, that hope.

Tomorrow it will be decided and, as it is decided, I am not going to let you tell it alone.

I hope to publish, if the gods and the countries and the balls allow it, a letter at the same time as yours.

Or did you think you were going to have the penultimate word again, Your Excellency?

The jelly is done, or almost done.

Hugs despite everything – and good luck in defeat.

Justice is blind but fair, you know that.

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Source: elparis

All sports articles on 2022-11-25

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