CNN —  When voters go to the polls this Sunday to elect Argentina’s next president, they will have to choose not only between two candidates, but between two opposite ideas of what type of country they want to live in.

That is an old adage in the era of identity politics. Still, it is hardly truer anywhere than in Buenos Aires, where Sergio Massa, the country’s current finance minister and a scion of the political establishment, is squaring off against Javier Milei, a former television pundit who entered politics less than 36 months ago.

The runoff between Massa, from the government coalition Union por la Patria (Union for the Homeland), and Milei of La Libertad Avanza (Freedom Advances), brings to an end a polarizing political campaign that has seen a series of surprising reversals, beginning in August when Milei stunned the country with a victory in a preliminary vote. After a weaker showing in the election’s first round in October, Milei was seen as being on the backfoot; this week he is once again leading in the polls.

One of the biggest questions now facing voters in this soccer-obsessed nation is: which of these two political polar opposites, both of whom played as goalkeepers in their youth, is the safest pair of hands for an economy currently suffering some of the highest inflation in the world?

More than 35 million Argentinians will be asked to cast their vote on Sunday on whether they trust Massa to lead the country out of its worst economic crisis of the past two decades through familiar policies that have failed before, or to dive into the unknown with Milei who proposes the radical idea of ditching the Argentinian peso in favor of the US dollar as national currency.

Argentine law prohibits the publication of opinion polls up to eight days ahead of the vote, but recent results from the past few weeks have shown the candidates almost neck-and-neck, and most analysts believe the election will be close.

On a personal level, the two candidates could not be more different: Massa is a family man who has dreamt of becoming a politician since he was 11 years old and has spent his career in and out of elected office; Milei lives alone with five English mastiffs – all genetically identical clones from a previous pet – and was elected to Congress in 2021.

Massa has carefully selected his political alliances to propel his ascent to government, while Milei rose to fame with political stunts, like wielding a chainsaw at rallies, and vowing to unleash a wrecking ball on the administrative class his opponent represents.

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