Gabriel Pasquini, an Argentinian writer living in New York City, is the author of two novels in Spanish. (June 2018)

NYR DAILY

World Cup 2018: Argentine Dread

Lionel Messi, Argentina’s captain, preparing for a penalty kick against Iceland at Spartak Stadium in Moscow, Russia, June 16, 2018

After a visit in the 1960s, the French writer and culture minister André Malraux was reported to observe, shrewdly, that “Buenos Aires is the capital to an empire that never happened.” Accordingly, Argentina is divided between warring factions that hark back to the nineteenth century, and we’re always expecting a providential man or woman to save us. We pour a distillation of this tense brew into our national sports, the games bequeathed us by our golden age. We look to our players for the chance to recover what we’ve lost, the triumph denied.