The Barcelona ace was in full flow as he controlled a long ball from Ever Banega with his thigh and took just the slightest of touches to set himself up before blasting a shot past Nigeria keeper Francis Uzoho. Messi’s performance proved vital in seeing the Albiceleste past the Super Eagles and into the Round of 16.
After watching Messi struggle against Iceland and Croatia, much was made of the contrast between the player we’d seen in Argentina’s first two matches and the one we saw against Nigeria. Was the turnaround due to playing with the pressure of knowing it was do or die? Was it the autonomy of Messi having reportedly taken charge behind the scenes after a player coup against manager Jorge Sampaoli?
Or was it something else entirely?
After the match, Messi was doing his post-match press routine when Argentine reporter Rama Pantorotto asked him a question. You can watch the moment here.
For our non-Spanish speaking readers, Pantorotto asks Messi, “I don’t know if you remember, but my mother [or wife, depending on the translation] gave you an amulet. I don’t know if you threw it away or something . . . ”
It’s at this point in the video that Messi interrupts him.
“Look,” says Messi as he pulls down his sock to reveal that he’d been wearing the amulet the reporter had given him all along. Messi finishes the interview and walks away smiling. The amazed reporter then turns to the camera and says, “Mom, Messi wore it.”
Apparently, Pantorotto had given Messi the amulet ahead of Argentina’s World Cup opener, a frustrating 1-1 draw with Iceland. That means he must also have been wearing it in the 3-0 loss to Croatia. So if the amulet is indeed a factor, one could argue it’s brought somewhat mixed luck so far.
Good result against Nigeria aside, based on what we’ve seen from them at this World Cup so far, Messi and Argentina may need all the luck they can get when they meet France in the Round of 16 this weekend. Seems like maybe Messi should keep wearing the amulet.
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