Argentina and Brazil fans celebrate in Rio's Maracana
RIO DE JANEIRO -- We don't know if the Brazilians and Argentines will come face to face at the Maracanã for the final match of this World Cup. But in the bleachers, the duel began this Sunday. A war, but one that's a joy to behold. In the chanting, the shouting, the dancing. The taunts from one side to the other. From the Argentine chanting for Lionel Messi and co. From the Brazilian, mocking as ever, who adopted the Bosnians. In the way that only soccer can bring about.
And it's only at the World Cup that you can watch Argentina's opener against Bosnia and be greeted by the sight of a sea of blue and white shirts in the bleachers intermingled with green and yellow shirts. Some blue Bosnian shirts were in attendance, as well. But they were just making up the numbers. The real duel was between Brazilian fans rooting for Bosnia and Argentines.
The goal, an own goal, that gave our "brothers" such an early lead, caused the massed ranks of Argentines who packed the Maracanã to erupt as if they were from this country. They made Messi and co feel right at home. They felt right at home themselves. And they rocked the house, like in the stadiums of Buenos Aires, warning that this feeling couldn't stop. And it couldn't. It was football, of course. It was the World Cup.
Exhibiting that provocative pose typical of the host nation, the Brazilians began to chant "Pentacampeão" ("Five-time champions"). Hands in the air, shouting, laughing. Five world titles against two for the Argentines. And Bosnia pressed forward, closing in on Romero's goal. In the bleachers, the green and yellow shirts joined with the blue shirts to make one party. And in the Maracanã anthem, the one that begins with "On Sunday, I'm going to the Maracanã...," they asked which team they were going support. And the new Maracanã erupted in chants of "Bosnia."
In the second half, Argentina calmed the game down. And the albiceleste fans in the bleachers jumped and chanted non-stop. Celebrating victory. The Brazilians tried to wind them up again. But it didn't work. Messi beat one, beat two, then three defenders, and scored one of his typical Camp Nou goals. The bleachers erupted. The 74,738 people who filled the Maracanã understood there and then. They were there to celebrate football. A few of them cursed the No. 10, but the majority got behind him.
"Olé, olé, olé, Messi, Messi!"
For now, a truce had been reached. But it only took a Bosnian goal at the end of the match to reignite the rivalry. More Brazilian chants in support of the Europeans. And a message:
"Oh, Argentina, you can wait! Your time will come."
Possibly on the pitch on July 13. But the long-awaited duel between Brazilians and Argentines in the bleachers had come to an end. Football was the winner. The Maracanã was the winner. A celebration worthy of a World Cup.