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Off the field, the Germans were badly outnumbered

Rio de Janeiro: If there was any award for the best supporters in the World Cup, the Argentine fans would have beaten the other 31 nations by a mile. Boisterous, aggressive and always backing their team to the hilt… Singing and dancing, chanting “Ole ole Argentina”, they ruled over Rio as if it was their own fiefdom.

On Sunday, more than one lakh Argentine fans — 20,000 managed to get inside the Fifa FanFest — descended on the Copacabana beach wanting their favourite team to win. They sang what according to many the most defining chant of the World Cup.

Brazil, decime qué se siente, tener en casa tu papa — Brazil, tell me how it feels, to be bossed around in your own home… The song continues with references to past football victories against Brazil and a warning that Brazil will see (Lionel) Messi later in the World Cup. It ends with another bold statement: Maradona is greater than Pele.

And if there was anyone in Rio on Sunday who did not know the final score, he would have definitely thought it was the Argentines who won the Cup. Even in defeat they did not stop singing Brazil, decime qué se siente. Thousands of fans made circles in the busy thoroughfares of the Copacabana district heaving and dancing.

It was quite a sight since back home we are used to with pelting of stones at a player’s house whenever the Indian cricket team loses a match. “We deserved the Cup, but congrats to Alemania… They played really well… We got chances, but could not convert those. In the end, I believe we were not destined to win in Brazil. But we are proud of this team… We never thought we would come this far given the fact that since 1994 we haven’t gone beyond the quarters,” Hernan Foye, an Argentine fan from Buenos Aires said.

The Germans were badly outnumbered on Sunday. Whether it was at the Copacabana Fifa FanFest or the pubs, it was the Argentines who were calling the shots. “We were apprehensive of whether it would be a good decision to watch the match at a pub or FanFest arena,” a German from Southampton who has come with three of his British friends said.

“Yes we have won. Finally the World Cup after 24 long years… I was just two when the last time we won… But the Argentine fans are really amazing.”

The Argentine boisterousness could be gauged from this… At around 3.30 pm on Sunday, a bus carrying fans pulled over at one of the streets that leads to the Copacabana. Vamos Argentina the poster on the bus said. And then came down a platoon of fans. They started chanting vamos, vamos Argentina, vamos, vamos a ganar, que esta barra quilombera, no te deja, no te deja de alentar.

While roughly translated it means Let’s go, let’s go Argentina, we’re going, we’re going to win, for these raucous supporters, won’t stop, won’t stop cheering you. The buses and the cars waited patiently as they performed the tribal-like rites and then moved towards the Copacabana.

As the evening gave way to night, the Germans slowly started trooping out. At the Garota do Flamengo, a restaurant in the upmarket Flamengo district, the Germans cheered every time the television showed Mario Goetze’s delightful goal.

There were some Brazilians who also joined them… After all the Germans defeated a team the Brazilians loved to hate. “Arrogant, boorish vulgar… Maracana is ours not theirs,” the Brazilian taxi driver had said the other day.

There were some Argentines too at the restaurant. Sipping caipirinha, they — with sad faces — could only watch them celebrate. The cliched “so near yet so far” was never so apt.