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World Cup Diary Day 6: Argentina announce their arrival

| 16.06.2014

Argentina’s Group F opener against World Cup debutants Bosnia Herzegovina headlined Sunday’s action and La Albiceleste didn’t disappoint their raucous fans.

Having made my way back to Rio I was eager to get back amongst the throng and experience the rabid reaction to seeing Lionel Messi and co on football’s biggest stage.

World Cup Diary Day 6

05:00 – Alarm goes off.  Alarm snoozed.

05:10 –  Alarm goes off *checks flight pick up time* I’m up.  Yet again, I eschew all common sense and leave packing until the morning of the flight.

If suitcase packing ever becomes an Olympic sport I’d be long odds-on for a gold medal as a deliver yet another PB when it comes to chucking clothing, camera equipment, laptops and various other paraphernalia that should never fit into a suitcase in less than 90 seconds.

12:48 –  Back to Rio, and it strangely feels quite homely knowing this is base camp for the trip despite only having been here for a few days beforehand.

Sundays in the city are known for being one of the best days for atmosphere at normal times, with the main Copacabana road shut for runners, walkers and rollerskaters and coupled with the World Cup carnival being in town there’s an incredible buzz in the air.

It’s not a dissimilar feeling to the remarkable sense of goodwill and pride that engulfed London during the Olympics, but with a distinctly Latin-American twist.

They should bottle this up and prescribe it back at home for Monday mornings in January when the tube is suspended.

13:30 – Time for lunch and in typical South American style, it’s a big hunk of red meat with in this case four, yes four carbs.  To think my girlfriend moans at me for preparing meals which dare to feature double carbs back at home.

Plenty of Argentina fans are in here fuelling up for the big game on very similar combinations.

17:05 – Local reports suggest as many as 50,000 Argentines are in town coupled with the thousands more who already live here. The place is absolutely swarming with fans in blue and white and understandably, they’ve travelled in expectation not hope.

Many of them have trundled over the border in an assortment of campervans, trucks and various other vehicles which have just been parked on the Copacabana, turning the great stretch of beach into something of an Argentine festival campsite.

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17:20 –  I’d be well within my rights to do so, but before I get too carried away with Argentina I should say ‘chapeau’ to the French who looked lively against Honduras. My semi-longshot tip for the tournament definitely look to have clicked and topping the group should now be a formality.

18:34-  Finally into the Fan Fest just in time for the anthems. I spot the first two Bosnia-Herzegovina fans I’ve seen all day, who chuckle and tell me they are the only two here.

People spoke about how England fans outnumbered travelling Italians in Manaus, but this takes it to a new level. They’re not expecting to get much out of Messi and co tonight but are confident of qualification.

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18:44 –  I dress up as a can of official FIFA World Cup partner beer Brahma (c) for your entertainment.

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18:55 – Understandably, the Argentina fans are big on Maradonna and he’s the subject of quite a few impressive flags. This effort the best of them spotted so far. Time for the anthems now, with the Himno Nacional Argentino belted out with as much gusto and pride as you might expect.

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20:16 –  Just as people are starting to wonder when Messi might arrive, he arrives in absolute style. The ‘home’ fans erupt and quickly break out into their ‘Messi will lead us to the World Cup’ chant.

It’s a good one, but not a patch on ‘es no que salta es Ingles’, roughly translated as ‘he who doesn’t jump is an Englishman’.

20:40 – The grand total of two more Bosnia-Herzegovina fans are spotted and they get something to cheer about when their side, who are full value for the goal hit the back of the net.

They’ve put in a decent performance tonight and even without having seen Iran and Nigeria in action I’d confidently nail my colours to the mast and say they will complete the forecast for the group behind Argentina.

21:00 – A sprawling mass of blue and white streams out of the fan zone and onto the street and beach, content with their win safe in the knowledge that there must be more to come from the tournament second favourites.

21:30 – The now familiar sight of the best fans at the World Cup (or Chileanos as they are also known) greets me and anyone who had just walked out onto the street without watching the game would be well within their rights to think it was La Roja who had just played and won such is the noise coming from their supporters.

I quickly pick up the gist of their chants and join in with a couple of fan favourites including the big crowd pleaser ‘Chi, Chi Chi, Le Le Le’. Sadly I’m out of town when they play Spain in the match that could define their World Cup, but I’ll be rooting for them all the same in Sao Paulo and I dare say I might come across at least a handful there as well.

22:00 – There’s a fan here in a Brazil shirt, swinging an Argentina shirt around his head and grasping a replica Jules Rimet while bouncing up and down with the Chile fans. Talk about hedging your bets.

23:00 – Resisting the temptation to down a couple of Guaranas and bounce into the night with the fans of my new favourite team (could quickly become my only team at this tournament) I call it a day. Vamos Chile!


Read all about my World Cup odyssey on Ladbrokes News and follow me on Twitter @LadsAlex!

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Alex Donohue

One third of Ladbrokes' PR team, Alex covers football, politics and current affairs and is also involved in the bookmaker's SPFL sponsorship.
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