The match between Argentina and Nigeria on June 26 was an exciting one, as both teams were fighting to advance into the playoffs. Argentina opened the score when Lionel Messi made a goal in the 14th minute, his first in this World Cup.
The pressure on Messi’s team grew after Nigeria scored. It seemed like Argentina would run out of time and be forced to go home, but in the 86th minute Marcos Rojo made a stunning goal, sending the Argentina team and thousands of fans into a wild frenzy.
According to Rojo, it was Messi’s rousing speech during the half-time that made all the difference.
"Messi came up to us and told us to calm down and not be stressed. We felt nervous and that message helped us a lot and gave me personally a huge confidence boost,” Rojo said.
"Messi is our captain and he's the best captain in the world, it was amazing to score that goal. Messi told everyone that it was either life or death. It could've gone badly. We could've conceded but Leo was stubborn,” the striker added.
According to Rojo, Messi told him to run forward and he actually told everyone to attack, no matter what.
In the previous few matches, Argentina and Messi were unable to demonstrate their game as they would have wanted. Messi did not manage to score any goals for his team and his leadership was brought into question. However, he delivered a World Cup-saving team talk when it mattered most for Argentina.
Argentina will now face France in their last-16 tie on Saturday.