By Mike Woitalla
You think Brazilians will pull for their South American neighbors in the World Cup final against Germany? Fuhgeddaboudit.
Yes, Germany knocked out Brazil with a humiliating 7-1 semifinal rout. But the Brazilians hail the Germans for their performance and their humble behavior after the victory.
“Que elegancia!” is the headline of a Lance! article featuring quotes from several German players praising and consoling Brazil, even apologizing. The cover shows German forward Lukas Podolski posing with a young Brazilian boy -- with big smiles holding the World Cup ball. “We are all Germans” has become a hashtag: #SomosTodosAlemanha
The Argentines -- already bitter archrivals -- had been taunting their Brazilian hosts even before the semifinal loss. The Argentines’ favorite song, one which even the albiceleste players were caught singing on video, begins with: “Brasil decime que se siente, Tener en casa a tu papa.”
To the tune of “Bad Moon Rising,” it asks, “Brazil, tell me what it feels like, Having your daddy in your house …” and tells Brazilians they’re still crying about Argentina knocking them out of the 1990 World Cup, that they’ll be watching Lionel Messi win the World Cup, and that Diego Maradona is greater than Pele.
During Argentina’s semifinal against the Netherlands in Sao Paulo, the Argentine fans belted out a song that counted up Germany’s seven goals.
When Argentines streamed back into town on the subway, they were frequently greeted by Brazilian fans chanting “Alemanha! Alemanha!”
After Brazilian Neymar suffered a broken vertebra, some Argentine fans hoisted a plastic spine and chanted, “Ole, Ole, Ole, we have Neymar’s spine.”
Despite the insults, one must credit Argentine fans as the most innovative and persistent singers at these games. Whenever the outnumbered Dutch fans tried to get something going at Arena Corinthians, they were immediately drowned out by the Argentines, whether it be a new song or the classic, “Vamos, vamos Argentina, vamos, vamos a ganar, etc. etc.”
Whenever a Dutch player made a mistake, the mocking from the stands was ear-piercing. Indeed, based on fan noise, the Argentine team had support in the stadium that rivaled the host’s at its six matches -- and the Brazilians do not sing and chant as unrelentingly.
Brazil and Argentina share a 784-mile border. More tourists from Argentina, about 5.5 million, visit Brazil annually, than from any other country. In foreign pre-tournament sales the 61,021 tickets bought by Argentine residents was second to the USA’s 196,838 seats, but thousands more Argentines have flocked to Brazil during the tournament and acquired tickets.
The two countries' national teams have struggled of late. Brazil lost in the quarterfinals of the two World Cups following its 2002 title win. Argentina hasn’t lifted the title since 1986, when it won its second, and also failed at the quarterfinal stage -- to Germany -- in the previous two World Cups. But now Argentina has a chance to win a third world championship on Sunday.
In my own survey of the first Brazilians I encountered today, 10 out of 10 want Germany to win. They dread the prospect of Argentines celebrating a World Cup on Brazilian soil.