With Argentina reaching a fever pitch just hours before Lionel Messi and his teammates take on France in the World Cup final, soccer fans across the country sensed a sense of destiny was brewing.
From Jujuy in the north to Chubut, some 2,800 kilometers to the south, from Mendoza at the foot of the Andes in the west to Mar del Plata on the Atlantic coast, the country was preparing to celebrate a long-awaited third world. title: 36 years after the last one.
At the Obelisk monument in downtown Buenos Aires, where fans flock to celebrate team victories, dozens of people jumped up and down singing songs as passing drivers honked their car horns on Friday, when they were still there were 18 hours left for the final.
“I feel very proud to be Argentine, I know that Messi will bring the cup home,” said Franco Llanos, 22, dressed in an Argentina jersey, a blue and white joker cap, draped in a flag and carrying a replica World Cup plastic. trophy.
“My passion is wooo-ooo-ooo!”
Carina Disanzo, 44, who wore Messi’s number 10 shirt in the historic Boca neighborhood, said the team “absolutely” deserved to win.
“If what we all expect happens, it will be a great party, but even if it doesn’t happen, it will be a great party because we are in the final with the best player in the world,” she said.
“It’s a very soccer country, what happens in Argentina… on the pitch, in the stands, with the people, doesn’t happen anywhere else.”
– ‘All for Messi’ –
The Argentine capital was a sea of blue and white jerseys, most with Messi’s number 10, flags, face paint, caps and other memorabilia.
The vendors were making a package, with Raúl Machuca, 22, saying the face paint and flags were selling like hot cakes at the Melu store in downtown Buenos Aires where he works.
With Christmas just around the corner, he said it was a double help for the store.
In some important avenues, the city council had painted the pedestrian crossings with the blue and white stripes of the national team.
Foreign soccer fans also joined the act.
English friends Josh Gwilt, 27, and Greg Layhe, 28, were traveling through Brazil but decided to change their itinerary to Buenos Aires “on a whim.”
“When are you going to be in South America and see Argentina in a World Cup final?” said Gwilt, who was wearing Emiliano Martinez’s goalkeeper jersey.
Layhe, wearing a Messi shirt, said they had partly decided to don their shirts as a precaution, given the historic bad blood between England and Argentina, both on and off the pitch.
Even so, he said he is firmly behind Argentina, especially Messi, who has won everything in the game but this.
“We all hope he wins the World Cup, even some French fans we’ve spoken to have been kind of torn because it would be an incredible end to his career. I think he is the best player of all time and he deserves to win the World Cup,” Layhe said.
Puerto Rican couple Lilly Oronoz and Antonio Secola, both 51, had also come to Argentina for the game.
“Latinos are very supportive,” Oronoz said. “All for Messi, all for Argentina”.
“It is because of the passion, we have more passion and the conviction that they are going to win,” added Secola.
At midnight from Saturday to Sunday, the main Argentine television channels marked 12 noon to kick off with a special interpretation of the national anthem recorded by the players themselves in Qatar, with guaranteed goosebumps.
Soccer is one of only two things in a politically polarized country with huge wealth disparities that unites all people.
“This national team and the Malvinas united us,” said Edgar Esteban, a veteran of the 1982 war with Britain over the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic and director of the Malvinas Museum in Buenos Aires.
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