There’s a video you can find online that shows Argentina’s players and team officials chanting and dancing in the locker room. This happened after Argentina beat Switzerland 1-0 after extra time earlier in the World Cup. It’s funny stuff, but what you take way from it is the intensity of the singing and the mad dancing. What they sing is the pointed little ditty called, “Brasil, decime que se siete.” It means “Brazil, tell me how it feels.” It was sung over and over by supporters of Argentina who poured into Brazil for the World Cup. As many as 120,000 came and they sang it everywhere, obsessively.
The point of it is to mock Brazil for being “bossed around” at home. The song sneers at Brazil and boldly asserts, “Maradona is better than Pele.” It was composed and has been popular long before Brazil was humiliated by Germany and eliminated.
The point of everything with this Argentina team, its supporters and the entire country of Argentina is forever established that Argentina is the one true great soccer countries of South America.
Brazil won five World Cups, Argentina won two. It is time to put that right. It’s an obsession with Argentina.
As much as Argentina will prepare to play Germany in the final, what it really preps for, with lip-smacking anticipation, is jeering Brazil. The team players are only instruments of a massive mind game.
Thus it will matter little that the semi-final victory over the Netherlands was a prosaic, stuffy affair, marked by timidity, even lack of ambition by Argentina. Their ambition is to reach the final in Brazil and then win it. By any means necessary.
It’s a historical need. A nagging, gnawing commitment to putting Brazil in its place. To the rest of the world, arguing whether Maradona or Pele is the greatest player in soccer history is something to be done over a beer, idly, without malice. In Argentina it is of vast, epic significance.
The time, Argentines believe, is now. They have Lionel Messi, the best player in the world. Around him they have an exceptional team, skilled in every department and in Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero (the star of that locker-room video with his swagger) they have youngsters who might be their golden generation. An age-old wish can be fulfilled.
The fact that the players sing in the locker room what fans sing in the stands and on the streets is significant. Often, at a World Cup, you’d get the impression that players are so remote from the fans and the media that they breathe a different air. Not with Argentina. The team is the nation and the nation is embodied in the team. The nation will feel a great deal better when it gets this grudge settled.
Sure, there is irony in the fact that Messi was barely visible against the Netherlands. Germany will take great comfort from the manner in which he was stifled. Sure, there is irony in the fact that it was not Argentina’s goal-scoring star or the team’s general prowess that sealed the victory – it was the goalkeeper Sergio Romero, nobody’s idea of a glamour-puss star. “By any means necessary” might be Argentina’s motto, and it doesn’t care if the world is puzzled. The world doesn’t matter. It’s Brazil that matters. It’s shouting in Brazil’s face that matters.
Against Germany in the final Argentina will play well. It will face daunting opposition, a team cocky from demolishing Brazil. But it won’t be Germany that Argentina is actually playing against. It’s Brazil. That kind of weird resentment can take you very, very far. Possibly past Germany. Possibly.