Is it time for Messi and his tango?
Even Lionel Messi's press conferences come with poetic flourishes.
After brushing aside Nigeria earlier this week, he was asked why he wanted to be world champion.
"Because there is nothing more beautiful than seeing the joy of the entire country," he replied.
He speaks as he plays, stylishly and from the heart. He accepts the enormity of the challenge handed to him by 41 million Argentinians with remarkable good grace.
Both gentleman and gladiator, he carries his country without complaint. Like Neymar, he walks alone with his incomparable gifts, lifting his teammates beyond their talents.
But Messi's a man in a hurry.
When Neymar reaches the top, he will find the Argentinian already there; his blue-and-white flag planted firmly at the summit.
Both men are on four goals and preparing to navigate their South American nations through the rough seas of the knockout stages, but Messi is increasingly aware of his sporting mortality. Neymar sways with the samba beat. Messi moves to the metronomic sounds of a ticking clock.
His biggest battle is not with Neymar, but his own birth certificate. At 26, he can procrastinate on a pitch no longer. Time is not on his side, but the better teammates are.
Neymar has the furtive Fred and a non-smashing Hulk. Messi is a member of the fantastic four.
In truth, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel di Maria looked more like the "flimsy four" in the groups stages, but at the very least, their off-the-ball running engineered enough space for El Enano ("the little man") to slip through a fire door against Iran and Nigeria and lead Argentina through an emergency exit to safety.
The tentative trio should improve in the knockout stages as Fernando Gago finds his fitness.
His relationship with Messi holds the key to Argentina's success. A lifelong friendship has forged an unbreakable bond and a tactical umbilical cord between defensive midfield and attack.
GO, GO, GAGO
When Messi is manacled to a pair of minders, Gago is expected to pick the locks and liberate his old buddy from Argentina's youthful globe-trotting days in 2005.
Neymar lacks such emotional connections within the Selecao. Being the best can be a lonely, disheartening experience. But Messi is not alone. He's got Gago.
He's also brought wisdom to this World Cup without compromising his instinctive ingenuity.
Four years ago, he sought to win matches on his own regardless of position or circumstances. Impatience gave way to petulance. He tried too hard.
Against Iran, however, he waited. He persevered. He relied on cunning, slipping by like a stealth plane to avoid detection. He's less flashy, but more forceful. He has taken the show out of business without being any less entertaining.
But Neymar can't quite help himself. His youthful impudence reigned against Cameroon. He went one flick too far; one crude Cruyff turn too many. He's a delight to watch but still retains the puppy-dog desire to please.
Messi only has eyes on the prize.
Neymar's presence at this World Cup has been almost as dazzling as his hair. A born showman, he believes in keeping up appearances. He's only 22. He's blond and blonds usually have more fun. He's focused on the present.
But Messi is thinking about the pantheon. His membership application hinges on this World Cup. Success seals the deal. Failure leaves him with an asterisk that can't quite be erased by more Barcelona booty.
Neymar has brought wit and invention to this irrepressible party. But the older, wiser man has come bearing wisdom.
He has the psychological edge. He has the more accomplished teammates. He has the easier route to Rio. Most of all, he has that ticking clock to contend with.
Messi's time must be now.