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Lionel Messi cannot fail, he can only be failed. Well, maybe 2010 was his fault with the superstar struggling to hit his usual heights. In other tournaments, the supporting cast of the Argentina national team has found a way to let him down in big moments. But after coming together to win Messi's first international tournament in the 2022 Copa America, could the team be developing enough grit to hold things together and support Messi to the promised land of a World Cup title? The Word Cup is the one thing missing from Messi's illustrious trophy cabinet but after defeating the Netherlands in a penalty shootout on Friday in the quarterfinals, Argentina are now two wins from reaching the goal. 

The team didn't make things easy dropping a 2-0 advantage to the Netherlands, conceding twice in the final minutes, but Messi did everything that he could in the match. His pass to assist Nahuel Molina on the opening goal was one of the best passes that I've seen. Mortals would've passed the ball back to exploit space on the left side of the Dutch defense but Messi has no issues delivering a splitting ball through four defenders to break a deadlock. 

Taking six shots and forcing two saves out of Andries Noppert while also creating three chances, Messi was everywhere in the match. After Marcos Acuna drew a penalty in the 71st minute, Messi was then able to convert from the spot to double the advantage. He even provided defensive help with a comical handball -- although his effort wasn't met with a yellow card like Cristian Romero's earlier in the match. 

But the Netherlands fought back with Wout Weghorst dominating the match after coming off the bench. He scored a brace in the match sending the match into stoppage time. It felt like the story was being written for another letdown for Argentina, but they found a new life in extra time. With Enzo Fernandez hitting the post and Angel Di Maria nearly scoring from a corner, it was La Albiceleste who came closer to finding a winner and had the momentum back on their side.

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But in penalties, having Emiliano Martinez on your side is quite a boon. Saving the first two kicks from the Netherlands, he turned it into a drama-free affair for Argentina to advance, which is how every game has ended after their shock loss to Saudi Arabia to start the World Cup. Friday, Martinez was the Robin to Messi's Batman, but against Australia, it was Julian Alvarez and Fernandez. 

When Argentina have needed a result during the World Cup, someone other than Messi has also risen to the occasion. Manager Lionel Scaloni already knows that Messi will be up for the occasion, but what's important is who will rise to join him. Even the defense has been excellent until those waning moments against the Netherlands.

With Croatia up next, the team will need to maintain their composure but things feel different. Even if it goes to extra time where Croatia can dominate, Argentina are a team that can match their energy. Even the petulance that saw Argentina pick up nine yellow cards is a necessary fight to advance in a knockout tournament. 

Two wins away from winning Argentina's first World Cup since 1986 in Mexico. Two wins away from helping Messi win the final trophy that he lacks. All that Argentina need to do is play their game and continue making teams bend to their terms. Friday's match against the Netherlands is a good example of what happens when they lose focus, but Scaloni will ensure that the team learns from the occasion. Now it's time to look forward and show how good of a supporting cast this really is.