Argentina delayed the drama until the round of 16, because Argentina are a drama. How Lionel Messi stretches it all out, nobody knows. There was no play. It was all soul. Qualification for Argentina was like the Quilmes beer advert. "For those who cry, for those who laugh, for those who suffer...," the advert goes.
There could be another 20 minutes of adding cheap poetry and it's the advert of the century. The truth is that they sell their misery like nobody. Diego Maradonarolled his eyes with Messi's goal. Another advert. Then, he stuck both of his middle fingers up after Marcos Rojo's. Another advert.
Aside from all that, the team was a disaster. The ball only made sense when it was at Messi's boots. Away from that, with all of the pain, all that's left to say is that they're a gang. They're a collection of guys clashing, badly organised at the back and losing the ball, with the only hope being that Messi keeps them alive. Messi had to paint the lines, put up the nets and score a spectacular goal. Not even that was enough. The drama returned in a horrible second half, which was badly planned and even worse in the execution. Once again, Argentina were on their way to failure.
Messi was on the edge of contagion. It's impossible not to be infected by the poor football when the teammate next to you is incapable of passing a ball two metres. The anxiety is so high that the team looks like the characters from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Jack Nicholson took that group by the scruff of their neck and Messi too has taken a suspicious group, one which is a profanity in the cathedral of Argentinian football, to a World Cup. When the referee blew the final whistle, the hugs were not of joy. They were of those who had survived a catastrophe, of those who had seen the losses and come back to life. What was on the pitch was the wreckage of a shipwreck.