On little sleep I hurried across Recoleta to get on the C line, connect with the B line and rush through the streets of Almagro that I don’t know at all to a bar called El Banderín to watch the game this morning with some friends. Argentina vs. Germany, elimination stage of the World Cup. The city was already buzzing and things felt alive. Everyone else was already there getting their coffee and croissants when I walked into the packed cafe, so it took me a while to get my own. A raucous group of women next to us wouldn’t stop screaming and was actually shooshed several times throughout the game.
Immediately as the game started, Germany came out attacking hard and making Argentina look like second string amateurs. Their early goal deflated the mood throughout the city, but with so much time left on the clock it was hard to feel totally crestfallen. But Argentina continued to play sloppily for the next 10-15 minutes, causing everyone in the bar to scream and bang the tables in frustration. Bad passes, missed opportunities, and lackluster moves were soon forgotten as Argentina began to dominate the game for the next half and a half. It really seemed like Argentina was doing as they wished, and if it weren’t for the score they would have seemed like World Champions, yet scores are the only things that matter in sports.
Argentina wasn’t getting many good looks towards the net and it seemed like anytime they got near it, a giant German came in to stomp the ball away. Take away the fact that a goal was taken away for an obvious offside, and the game was still not in their hands totally. As that overturned goal first went in the bar went into pandemonium, with screams so loud that the blasting TV was droned out. But once we realized what happened, the energy flattened out quickly. And with the second German goal, things looked dim. From then on it appeared as though Argentina just gave up, and those last two goals to finish it off at 4-0 were more of a slap in the face and acceptance of defeat. They couldn’t even score one goal.
The game drew more questions, like why Lionel Messi, arguably the best player in the world, didn’t score one goal throughout the World Cup, or why the team played so sloppily at the beginning of the match. We lazily ambled out of the cafe in defeat and had to deal with the remaining beautiful and hot day, despite the fact that it is winter. A few of us headed to Puerto Madero for some lunch and then to Plaza San Martin to watch the Paraguay vs. Spain game, surrounded by Paraguayans and two or three Spaniards who had bottles thrown at them when they finally scored and knocked out Paraguay. Another crowd of sad fans. So now we need to find a new thing to look forward to, which can only be the spring. It’s going to be a boring and upsetting winter here in Buenos Aires.
Here is a short video showing the tension of World Cup soccer in South America.