Brazil revels in Argentina’s World Cup final misfortune
Maradona returns fire by bringing up host nation’s 7-1 defeat to Germany
‘Tell Me How You Feel Now’ was Monday’s gloating front page headline of Brazilian sports daily Lance!
All month the Argentine fans at the World Cup have sung a song asking Brazilians what it feels like to have their ‘Daddy’ visit them, among a number of other insults. But their team’s 1-0 loss to Germany in Sunday’s final has allowed the Brazilians to turn the tables, with the country’s media wallowing in the defeat of their arch-rivals.
‘Argentina, Tell Me How You Feel After Losing in Your Daddy’s House’ sneered O Día, which claimed Germany’s victory over their arch-rivals had “cleansed Brazil’s soul after the humiliation of its seleção”.
‘Here No, Brothers’ advised A Gazeta while A Tarde had a simple ‘Thank You, Germany’.
This Brazilian support for Germany drew a sarcastic response from a “hurting” Diego Maradona on his post-match show. “If they are now going to slag me off I have to respond. We lost the final but we only suffered one goal. No-one will ever take the seven away from them,” he said in reference to Germany’s 7-1 defeat of Brazil in the semi-final.
In Argentina the press praised the team that had ‘The Heart of a Champion’ in the worlds of Olé. “After the frustration of Messi, Masche and the others at not being able to bring with them the Cup that was so close they deserve the best reception,” it argued. “They played a great final against Germany, we were robbed of a penalty, several goals went begging in the 120 minutes but they put their soul into it.”
The decision not to award a penalty for Manuel Neuer’s collision with Gonzalo Higuaín was a talking point but not everyone was convinced that Argentina had been cheated.
“The Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli legitimately interpreted that Neuer won his position first and then afterwards found in his path Pipita Higuaín. Therefore no penalty, in the same way he did not see possible second yellows for Kun Aguero and Javier Mascherano, ” wrote Ezequiel Fernández Moores in La Nacion. “There are no moral victors in Brazil 2014. Just a deserving champion.”
Instead of the referee the greater focus was on Argentina’s misfiring attack, which was meant to be the side’s strong point but never clicked during the tournament, a fact emphasised by three clear chances spurned by Higuaín, Messi and Rodrigo Palacios during the game.
“There is an axiom in football that you pay at one end the chances you let slip at the other. And Argentina suffered exactly that in the final played in the Maracanã. The team could have won the game in various key moments but let the opportunities pass and left without being able to celebrate the anxiously desired goal,” noted the editorial in Clarin, which included a telling reference to the absent Carlos Tevez, never called up by coach Alejandro Sabella “but able to score goals in the Italian league”.
Unfortunately such phlegmatic realism was not always present at full-time. In Buenos Aires rioting broke out at the Obelisk, usually the place where victories are commemorated but where thousands had gone to salute the team’s efforts. But the celebrations ended in confusion as police fought running battles with barrabrava football hooligans that left eight officers injured and 40 people arrested.
There were also a number of fights involving Argentines in fan fest on Copacabana beach. After Mario Götze’s winning goal a group of around 200 German supporters were attacked with bottles and chairs forcing them to flee. They complained later that police had looked on and failed to intervene to protect them.
Earlier Rio’s police had violently broken up a small anti-Fifa protest and restored order elsewhere in Copacabana using pepper spray after isolated outbreaks of unrest after the final whistle. Rival groups of Argentine and Brazilian supporters continued to exchange taunts into the night but the atmosphere was mostly festive as thousands drank beer and, as the pungent clouds made clear, smoked marijuana along the famous beachfront.
Meanwhile, on the televisions in bars and restaurants in the streets off, it the local channels carried the news that Felipão had quit as Brazil’s coach after his side humbling during the week at the hands of first Germany and then the Netherlands. It was an unwanted reminder amidst the relief at Germany averting the nightmare of an Argentine victory that while the country had organised a surprisingly successful tournament it had failed badly in the one area going into it where they were most confident – on the field itself.