Argentina Kicks Off in World Cup Practice Matches
Article by Nora Wallenius.
As my thoughts (and my nose) were lost in the scent of choripan and the jostle of the crowd, I was abruptly brought to attention by a high pitched screech of a whistle. Was it the police? Was I in trouble? Had I done something wrong? No, it was simply a man with more than 100 blue and white striped obnoxious sounding whistles hanging from his neck, trying to sell his next gimmick to the crowd. These whistles were one of many chotskies being sold outside of Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti, home of the River Plate club team in Buenos Aires. Being my first time to the stadium, I was unsure of what to expect, especially since this was no ordinary River futbol game. This was a World Cup 2014 warm up match between the Argentine National team and Trinidad and Tobago National team. This meant a slice of the World Cup action was available to the masses in Buenos Aires, especially for those of us who were unable to shell out the minimum US$300 ticket price for a game in Brazil this June. No worries if you shied away from actually travelling to Brazil this year, as fans were able to see Lionel Messi (if this name is not familiar to you, you probably shouldn’t be reading this article) and his fancy footwork on home soil.
Complete with my Argentina blue and white tank and a large Argentina flag, my group and I settled into our seats, which were surprisingly centrally located for the meager $290 pesos price. Despite being in a group of all foreigners, I felt national pride as the crowd sung along to the Argentine national anthem and I enthusiastically waved my flag and chanted along to lyrics I don’t know. The Argentine fans around us were surprisingly very interested in where we were from, why were at the game and if we liked futból (duh!). Friendly matches like this one are an opportunity for the national teams to practice playing together and work out the kinks on the field, as most of the players play for club teams all around the world. The first half had a few disappointing missed goals on the part of Argentina, but they finally closed the match scoring three goals and beating Trinidad and Tobago, 3-0. Messi shined as usual, with his quick feet and suburb control of the ball. Of course, all players are worried about hurting themselves before the real matches during the World Cup, so the game was not as physical or intense as they will be in the next month.
For those of you who are a little less than current on your futból statistics, Argentina is ranked in the top 4 teams this year, along with Spain, Brazil, and Germany. Although fans are still unsure who will come out on top, this year’s tournament is especially tense with the strong rivalries between Argentina and Brazil. Controversy has stained much of the World Cup 2014, from delayed building projects, Brazil’s less than competent clean up of the favelas in Rio, and rampant protests by its citizens.
Brazil kicks off the tournament against Croatia on Thursday, June 12 at 5:00 pm, local time. Help cheer on Argentina in their first game against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Sunday, June 15 at 7:00 pm local time. I, for one, will be watching with a choripan in one hand and my blue and white flag in the other. Aguante Argentina!