First things first there’s a difference between most important player and best player.
Because who are we kidding, Lionel Messi is worth his weight in gold for Argentina and he emphatically underlined that again last night.
But a tactical switch and change of personnel by the previously baffling Jorge Sampaoli was equally crucial to their victory over Nigeria.
Against Iceland and Croatia Argentina were insipid and predictable, relying far too much on Messi to conjure something from nothing.
Javier Mascherano – a man who has been playing centre-back for four years – was deployed as the creative midfield pivot and, unsurprisingly, it backfired.
Mascherano has been a sensational servant for his country but dictating the tempo and threading eye-of-the-needle passes are not his strengths.
The same cannot be said of Ever Banega.
Banega was drafted into the side against Nigeria and Argentina instantly looked a different entity.
The Sevilla man is of a rare breed, from the Xabi Alonso school of thought capable of making games work around him.
With Banega in midfield Argentina finally have a platform to create from deep rather than dragging Messi further away from goal.
He showed it beautifully with an exquisite assist for his captain, which was finished in typically sumptuous style.
Soon after he picked out Angel di Maria with an equally mesmeric pass, only for the PSG winger to be up-ended en route to goal.
Banega’s presence crucially liberates Messi, allowing him to dominate more from his free roaming role instead of shoulder the entire creative burden.
So why on Earth did it take Sampaoli this long to realise?