The world’s best player, Lionel Messi, has dragged this Argentinian squad to the precipice of a world title.
While this Argentina squad has found ways to win this tournament, they did so in an uneven, stop and start manner. They beat the Dutch in the semifinal, but they did not play beautiful football.
Today’s final has been cast as a man versus machine – the man being Messi and the machine being a German squad who eviscerated Argentina’s most hated rival.
Messi’s legacy will be shaped in one form or another by this afternoon’s 90-plus minutes of football. The Maradona comparisons will never go away, but if Argentina wins, there will no longer be any caveats tethered to Messi’s greatness.
We caught up with a local supporter – 31-year-old Devonshire resident Kodi Hinds – to talk Messi, Maradona and all things Albiceleste.
So, how are you feeling? Confident?
Of course, of course. I’m not worried at all.
How do you see things shaking out?
This whole tournament, games have turned on one moment of brilliance. It hasn’t necessarily been dominant team play – with one obvious exception. It’s mostly been moments of brilliance. And that’s what today is going to come down to. It’s going to come down to Messi. He will come through.
What made you an Argentina fan?
The first World Cup clip I ever saw was of the Argentina squad in 1978, when they won everything. And I just liked the team. They seemed like they had a lot of hard-working, working class players. The other thing was most of my friends are for Brazil. I’m not like that. I’m not a bandwagoner. Brazil has always been on top and you know if you’re going to support another team in South America, it has to be Argentina.
So you must have been pretty happy with that demolition job by Germany?
The thing is, they finished the game where they lost 7-1 with 11 men. That’s a problem. If you’re losing 7-1, you better be doing things that show you are not having that. You’re not ok with that. You should be finishing with nine men, if you know what I mean.
Is that part of the reason why you like Argentina – they have a rep for not being afraid to get nasty.
When it comes down to it, you better believe it.
Do you have a thing for drug-addled, diminutive cheating geniuses? Is that another reason for your support of Argentina?
No, not really. You know that was disappointing, when Maradona was caught with cocaine. When you look up to someone and find out they’ve been using any type of drugs, that’s always disappointing.
Aren’t you nervous though? Germany just housed Brazil 7-1. Seven to one!
Nah. That was a freak show, a one-time occurrence.
So what’s your prediction?
My betting prediction is 3-0 with a Leo Messi hat trick. What do you I think is going to happen? I think it will be tied 1-1 after extra time. Then we go to penalties. (shrugs)
What will you do if Argentina wins the World Cup?
I don’t know. I don’t know. I’d have to think about that. And see how much I’m up with the bets. (laughs)
Do you see any parallels between this squad and the 1986 Argentina team that won it all? Both have transcendent superstars who have dragged teammates who have underwhelmed to victory…
Maradona was out of this world, but I think with that ’86 team, he had a better cast around him than Messi does now.