Argentina gripped with anticipation

BUENOS AIRES - AiresAfter a quarter of a century of reaching this stage of the World Cup as spectators, Argentina are due to play in a semi-final at last.

The nation is gripped with anticipation, and as luck would have it the fixture falls on Argentina’s independence day – 198 years old, this is a youngish country where the blue and white flag-waving on July 9 is usually limited to school celebrations marking the declaration of the Congress of Tucumán.

Not so this time; after the victory over Belgium, people took to the streets all over the country and the expectation that a place in the final will be secured means most are preparing to repeat the chanting, with many speculating that even a defeat at this stage will bring the crowds out, such is the sense of achievement at having got this far.

The mainstream news programme on TV has replaced its jingle with the “Brazil tell me what it feels like” chant that – to the tune of Credence Clearwater – has become the anthem for Argentina fans this World Cup.

It’s as if News at Ten took to adopting Baddiel and Skinner’s Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home).

But the Argentina version, which claims Argentina is the father of Brazilian football, has spread like wildfire and even the national squad have been chanting it in the dressing room.

The Oscar-winning novelist Eduardo Sacheri, who started as a football writer before his novel The Secret in Their Eyes was turned into a film, has deconstructed the message implicit in the song: “In football’s cosmovision, paternity can be anything except a healthy desirable link,” he says.

The main advertisers and sponsors have produced “motivational” videos, in which they claim the entire population of 40 million are playing too, and Gillette’s version has been shown to the actual players who are being told they are the warriors tasked with defending our love for the nation.

Few are the voices that distance themselves from this patriotism; everyone has been swept up in a frenzy, and the belief that Argentina will once again bring the trophy home sits comfortably with minor criticisms at the style of play.

In fact, comparisons with 1990, the last time a national squad got past the quarter-finals, are rife, and it is widely regarded that on that occasion the quality of the football itself left a lot to be desired.

But we have entered the “mata-mata” stage – kill or be killed – and now only results count; few care how it’s done, as long as it’s done. And for many, it’s been done already: Argentina are in the semi-final. – The Guardian

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