By Mike Woitalla
Two sets of fans on the subway leaving the Maracana station on Sunday night wore German replica jerseys. One group sang loudly and danced around while the other watched before finally joining in.
The more raucous group -- they were Brazilians. They let the Germans teach them a dance: “So gehen die Deutschen, die Deutschen gehen so! -- which requires stooping down, walking in place with small steps before swinging one’s arms up.
Then the Brazilians spotted Argentines at the end of the car and changed to a different song.
For weeks, the Argentines had mocked and taunted the host with a song to the tune of “Bad Moon Rising” that starts with “Brazil, tell me what it feels like, Having your daddy in your house …” and describes how Lionel Messi will win the Cup, among various other chiding.
Fans' flag at the final depicting Pope Francis, an Argentine, and the first words of the song with which Albiceleste fans had been mocking Brazil.
Now the Brazilians came up with a new version that turned the lyrics on the Argentines and quickly spread through Rio via text messages, so whenever Brazilian fans spotted Argentines they belted out, in Spanish: “Argentina, tell me how it feels, To go home to daddy without the Cup. … Argentina, tell me how it feels, to have only two Cups when we have five.”
It goes on to mention Messi’s failure and mock Angel Di Maria for “having women’s name.”
(It should be noted that both versions, sang in Spanish and to rhyme, are rather catchy tunes.)
The Brazilians also did a lot of counting up to five -- the record number of World Cups the Selecao has won.
The last came in 2002 and hopes of a sixth were squashed when the Germans trounced Brazil, 7-1, in the semis. A 3-0 loss to the Netherlands added more misery to the host’s fans.
But the Brazilians had adopted Germany as their home team. Mainly because they couldn’t bear to imagine Argentina celebrating a World Cup on Brazilian soil.
“It will hurt me right here,” said a woman on the eve of the final while pointing to her heart.
“We don’t hate the Argentines as people,” said a 28-year-old computer programmer. “But in soccer, they are the main rival. No one wants to see them celebrate here in Rio. And we are sosick of their song. We hear it everywhere.”
There were reports of 100,000 Argentines coming to Rio. In Maracana Stadium, there may have been up to 20,000 Argentine fans, but most who traveled here had no intention of going to game. “We come for the festival,” said one. “The tickets are too expensive. They’re going for $4,000.”
The ones who couldn’t find lodging camped out at the Carnaval grounds. So when Germany beat Argentina, 1-0, in the final, the daily Expressowrote on its front page, “Bye, Argentines! Give us back our Sambodromo.”
Brazilians carried flags that combined theirs and Germany’s. Some had the German black-red-gold with the Brazilian blue globe and the "Ordem e Progresso" slogan in the middle.
Benedikt Hoewedes hit the Argentine post in the first half but Mario Goetze hit the net in overtime.
It is highly unlikely that Germans have ever been as popular in a city outside their borders as they have been in Rio de Janeiro these past few days, and especially after Mario Goetze’s goal downed Argentina.
“Thank you Goetze! You gave great joy to Brazil at the end of the Cup of Cups,” read a Lance!front-page caption. Hora Meia wrote, “Our brothers still have only two Copas, one less than Pele,” on its front page. Its sports page cover read: “Leave our house immediately, brothers!”
From afar, it wasn’t easy to distinguish the German fans who were among the estimated 6,000 to 9,000 who traveled across the Atlantic from the Brazilians. German shirts and flags must have been flying off the shelves here. But besides asking or listening to how they conversed -- the ones who shouted at Argentines were always the Brazilians.
On Monday morning, a grumpy policeman is cutting down the strings from which tiny Brazilian flags hung from near the Jato Bar in Flamengo with a look on his face indicating this shouldn’t be part of his job.
But someone has to do it. The string was sagging dangerously close to head-level at this street corner where last night Brazilian fans wildly celebrated even though their own team failed miserably -- an ending to this World Cup that I certainly never imagined.