Lionel Messi, after the game against Australia. Petr David Josek (AP)
Goal hug to Villoro:
I am exhausted, Granjuán, like twenty or thirty million of my compatriots.
Those last minutes of the match against Australia killed us: great business for kinesiologists, dentists, cardiologists, psychologists;
hard muscles, broken teeth, hearts cracked by fear.
I don't know if you could see the two games of Argentina tonight.
It was, like most of ours, a rarity.
We could have played just one, but it wasn't enough for us: you know our excess.
Two, then, and it was curious that they went with Australia.
Around 1900 two great powers loomed in the south of the south: they resembled each other in their immensity, their immigrants, their strength, their herds, their prosperous futures.
Argentina now has a gross product per head of about $10,000;
So we had to beat football.
The first game lasted 75 minutes and it was weird.
There were three shots on target and three goals: in total, three or four minutes of productive play.
In the other 1970s, Argentina played a game that some of the best teams –Brazil, Spain– have been playing in this cup: useless possession or
, childhood disease of guardiolismo.
Argentina was very good in that game: they gave as many back passes as they could without leaving the back of the field and then they tried to get ahead a bit to be able to give another batch of back passes.
When they advanced they never advanced in a single movement: they always stopped in the middle of the attack to give a pass – backwards.
Thus, they did not see the opposite arc or in the distance.
His own, yes: the passes included our goalkeeper who, to spice it up, was centimeters away from losing it centimeters from his goal.
For a long time, then, the Argentines practiced that supreme deception: they make you believe that they have it for something but they have it for nothing, just to have it, so you don't have it.
Until suddenly, at 34' –in homage to himself and his age–, Messi decided to be Messi for a little while.
Until then he had lost almost every one he had played;
he suddenly grabbed her in the area and sent her to keep in a corner: he was Messi again.
In his 1,000 game, his goal 789: here in France the sum of those two numbers means something.
Messi has long since dethroned all kings.
And ten minutes into the second half, the Australian goalkeeper also wanted to do his guardiolismo, he lost it, Argentina and Julián Álvarez scored their second goal.
In an hour of the match, Argentina had kicked twice on goal and won 2-0. Their midfield with the best Fernández –Argentina is a country full of Fernández– and McAllister's son –his father played the play-off match in 1993 in which Argentina left Australia out – it works, it is good at giving passes.
And young Álvarez is a distinguished bulldog, always in the pack with De Paul, who has little to do with being distinguished.
And Leo Messi determined to be Messi all the time: it was a pleasure to watch him.
It was a bit of an unlikely moment.
Suddenly everything became sweet, kind, brilliant even at times: Argentina controlled, attacked, flourished and believed that it was going to win comfortably, calmly, in such an anti-Argentine way.
But no: there are essences, a way of being, so, just then, the game is over.
And the second began: the mess.
Or, to use one of the few words that we have managed to introduce into the language of late, the great quilombo.
shot deviated to enter Dibu's goal, Messi's cavalcades ended in Lautaro's burricie, the Australians came, Argentina suffered, cut nails with its teeth, puckered.
You should have seen it, Granjuán: the spectacle of a terrified nation.
It was epic.
Until, at the last second, Australia was about to tie and Dibu Martínez saved it in extremis.
An immense sigh was heard – so many millions of sighs – and the game was over and we qualified to play the quarterfinals.
Tonight there is a gross party in Dhaka.
(And next is Friday with the Netherlands. Earlier, in a game without lights, the Netherlands dedicated themselves to scoring only the goals they needed; the United States, to doing everything except the goals they needed. At one point they accidentally scored one , of sad carambola, but they said goodbye to the World Cup with an example of tolerance and political correctness: they made four fouls throughout the game.The Netherlands, on the other hand, showed themselves to be a serious candidate – to lose the quarterfinals in the quarterfinals. )
Anyway, the game ended half an hour ago, I'm exhausted and I don't want to exhaust you with more laps.
Yesterday, Granjuán, you deplored the "posthuman condition" that is coming upon us, through machines.
And you celebrated the humanity of two great scorers: Cristiano, the one who didn't seem like it, and Luis Suárez, the one who always seemed too much.
My image of humanity today is that of Fideo Di María on the Argentine bench singing with the fans, following the rhythm with a small bottle on a stand.
I suppose that is, for the players, the essence of the World Cup: once every four years the highest paid mercenaries on the planet have the luxury of being fans of the team where they play.
And that's why they enjoy, suffer, get stunned, cheer up like never before.
That is why, I suppose, we look at them – and to see if, despite everything, our countries persist in their essence.
to our special newsletter about the World Cup in Qatar
Subscribe to continue reading
Read without limits
I'm already a subscriber