Five hours before Argentina’s first game in this World Cup, an overwhelmingly male group of Argentina fans bounced into the General Osorio metro station singing with fervour. Like the vuvuzelas in South Africa, it is a song that would be ringing in the ears of anyone who has spent more than an hour in Brazil over the past month.
So overwhelming has been its impact that even the odd Brazilian has been heard singing it, softly because it make so much fun of their football. Such as the groundnuts vendor on a rain-washed Copacabana beach on Thursday night. Or the man at the restaurant in Brasilia humouring his large Argentine clientele who jumped on chairs and banged tables while belting it out after their team ended a 24-year semi-final hoodoo.
‘Brasil, decime qué se siente, tener en casa tu papa’ (Tell me how it feels to be bossed around in your own home), the song taunts. Set to the tune of Bad Moon Rising by CCR there is a reference how Brazil is still moping about Diego Maradona’s “Gambeteo” (trickery) in their 1990 World Cup face-off and it ends with the assertion that Maradona is better than Pele.
Over the next few days, Rio is going to shake to that song as Argentines swarm the city. Unconfirmed reports have it that between 100,000 to 150,000 Argentines have come to Brazil during the World Cup. Some 62,000 Argentines have bought World Cup tickets --- the highest among foreign countries after the USA --- but many more have fetched up to be part of what they think is the ultimate experience in football, the journey to a World Cup title in Brazil.
“I am glad we didn’t have to go north to play. It would have been difficult for our fans,” said Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella after Wednesday’s win. Sounding unsure for most of his media interaction ahead of the first game, against Bosnia Herzegovina here on June 15, Sabella gave a firm reply to two questions: one was on Lionel Messi and the other on fans. Some 80,000 of them, an Argentine reporter said, had come and most of them were camping on the Copacabana promenade. “We play for them. We are indebted to them,” Sabella had said.
Brazil and Argentina share a border nearly 800km long. The maximum number of tourists, nearly 6 million annually, to this country are from Argentina. Yet the prospect of Argentina winning the World Cup here on Sunday would seem like Brazil’s worst nightmare coming true. Many are therefore supporting Germany. “Alemanha! Alemanha!” (Germany in Portuguese) is a chant that would get louder over the weekend and not all of it would come from the Deutschland supporters.