When the All Blacks miss out at a World Cup, we know there will always be another chance.
New Zealand have only missed the last four once in nine editions.
The usual pattern sees a cruise through the group stages, before facing a lower ranked team in the quarter-finals.
That kind of comfort doesn’t exist at the Fifa World Cup, the hardest trophy to win in sport.
Consider the odds.
The last time England made the final, the moon landing was still three years away.
Italy lifted the trophy in 1982 — their first triumph since Mussolini was in power — and have only won once more in the 40 years since.
Brazil haven’t come close to a final since 2002.
Spain is a huge footballing nation — with two of the world’s biggest clubs — but have only reached the final once, with their greatest team needing a late extra time winner to lift the trophy in 2010.
Even Germany, famed for their Teutonic consistency with 13 semifinal appearances across 22 editions, have only been champions once since 1990.
The Netherlands and Portugal are still waiting.
The whole Argentinian nation knew if they didn’t take this chance, it might never come again.
To navigate a World Cup takes a remarkable blend of skill, courage, tactics, cohesion and luck.
Jeopardy is everywhere.
While only eight nations have lifted the trophy (compared to four in rugby) the competitiveness is incomparable.
Over the years Germany have been eliminated by Bulgaria (1994), Croatia (1998), South Korea (2018) and Japan this time.
Morocco accounted for Belgium, Spain and Portugal in Doha.
Argentina were ousted by Romania in 1994 and Sweden in 2002.
Adding another layer to Argentinian joy were the circumstances, as few teams have endured such a path to glory.
Their loss to Saudi Arabia on 23 November — ranked as the biggest upset in Cup history — left them on a tightrope.
A tense tight game against Mexico, another battle with Poland, pushed harder than expected by Australia, giving up the lead with the last kick of the match against the Netherlands, before progressing via penalties.
The South Americans had to play full throttle in every match — unlike most other big teams who rested players on the way — only able to relax in the last 20 minutes of the semifinal against Croatia.
Underpinning everything, there was the pressure created by the Lionel Messi factor.
The thought Argentina had to win to cement his legacy was both a huge inspiration and a massive burden.
And on paper, Argentina didn’t have the best squad.
Brazil had more stars, England had bigger names and more experience, France had a better XI, Portugal had more attacking talent.
But Argentina were a true team; unified, determined, cohesive and streetwise. There were tactically flexible, brave and resilient, with every player performing their role and some playing way above expectations, and they improved with every match.
And they were prepared to suffer, knowing that the greatest glory often only comes through adversity.