His arms aloft, Lionel Messi stood before those who had come to adore him. In that second, he had the massed ranks of Argentina’s fans inside the Lusail Stadium under his spell. They did not bounce and writhe in celebration. Instead, he held them perfectly still, caught in a moment of quiet communion between the divine and his congregation.

Then, of course, it broke. The stands above seemed to melt and to shake, a roar of joy and relief and affirmation reverberating around this vast, golden bowl. On the field, Messi was flooded by his jubilant teammates. He had not scored the goal — that relatively simple task had fallen to Julian Alvarez — but he had created it, willed it into being, fashioned it from whole silk. And now, at last, he had done what he had set out to do.

For years, Argentina has hoped. For weeks, Argentina has believed. Only in that moment, though, with a 3-0 lead over Croatia with just 10 minutes of the semifinal remaining, did Argentina know. On Sunday, Messi will lead out his country in the World Cup final. Eight years on, the player who might be the best of all time will again grace the biggest game in the world. He will have one last shot at redemption. He will have his chance at revenge.