World Cup 2014: Blue-and-white Argentina army invades Rio are are convinced Lionel Messi's time has come
The Barcelona forward had a subdued performance in Argentina's opening game before scoring a superb winner
“Y ya lo ve / y ya lo ve / El que no salta / es un ingles!” “Now you see / now you see / He who doesn’t jump / Is an Englishman.”
England should be flattered that Argentina’s favourite football chant, that had 70,000 of them shaking the foundations of the Maracana on Sunday night, takes the trouble to castigate them. What do they have to hate the English for, really? David Beckham’s supine sidefoot in to an strangely unstable Diego Simeone? Peter Shilton’s inability to outjump the floating hand of a man approaching a full foot shorter than him?
Of course, there’s the Falklands, but it’s clear now that the Argentina team’s highly controversial intervention on that delicate issue was just a diversionary tactic, a false flag to detract attention from the carefully planned invasion their wild army of fans has launched on an unready Rio de Janeiro.
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Buenos Aires is a two-and-a-half-hour flight or a 40-hour bus ride from Rio, but to be on Copacabana over the past 48 hours you could be forgiven for imagining they could only have come via a D-Day style amphibious landing. The volleyball nets, the football goals that line that most famous stretch of sand are all daubed in the light blue and white of the Albicelestes, the caipirinha-serving kiosks rocking to Argentine chants, regardless of who is playing. Several of the fans have been found lying on the beach in the morning. “We can’t afford a hotel,” said Miguel Doran, “but we are not missing this. No way”.
On Sunday night, as the metro trains rolled up the length of Copacabana, huge numbers piled on at every stop, instantly joining in with the singing that did not stop for a moment as the trains turned north, towards that great football cathedral, the Maracana, in the city’s more authentic heart. “It’s the World Cup, in Brazil. And we are better than them,” said Fernando Fredrique, 26, from Buenos Aires. “Leo Messi – this is his moment. This is our time. Rio. The Maracana, this is our home now.”
Argentina fans in front of the Maracana stadium for the FIFA World Cup 2014 group match between Argentina and Bosnia-Herzecovina
On Sunday Messi did what he has failed to do at two previous World Cups and scored the kind of breathtaking solo goal he has done almost countless times for Barcelona. Afterwards he said the support had been amazing, but he was sure “it will be the same in Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte”, where they play their next two matches.
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