Stunned Argentine fans watch the shocking defeat of their team against Saudi Arabia during the World Cup in Qatar – Copyright AFP Daniel MIHAILESCU
Gasps gave way to stony expressions of disbelief, and then tears, as Argentinian fans gathered in Buenos Aires watched the humiliation of their soccer team at the World Cup in Qatar unfold.
“It was a beating, a bucket of ice water,” Carlos Cuera, 26, said of the 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia.
He was still sitting in front of a television cafe where fans dressed in the blue and white colors of his team had gathered since before 7:00 a.m. for the breakfast game in the Argentine capital.
“No one expected this. We thought the first three games would be easy wins, and now it has become more complicated,” he said, adding that the loss added to the pressure ahead of Saturday’s matchup with Mexico.
It was one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history for Lionel Messi’s Argentina team, ending a winning streak that included last year’s Copa América championship.
The proud and soccer-mad nation entered the World Cup among the favorites, eight years after reaching the final.
But Buenos Aires quickly resumed its normal hustle and bustle as heartbroken fans made their way to their offices.
On central Corrientes Street, not far from the city’s towering Obelisk, a cafe had set up a screen on the sidewalk, prompting delivery drivers, taxis, and even bus drivers to slow down in the hope of passing by. of another goal.
Pilates instructor Lena Widgren, 50, said she had heard it would be “an easy game.”
But he had noticed that whenever Argentina faces a draw or loss in a World Cup match, “their energy levels drop a bit, they lack fire.”
The day started better than it ended. The fans jumped out of their chairs, whooping with delight, as Messi scored from the penalty spot in the 10th minute.
“I feel very sad, really. The game started with such euphoria, with such a desire to win, and suddenly the game turned around, ”said Llanca Salvi, a 26-year-old plastic artist, adding that she did not know much about football.
But it was about “the emotion of being Argentine, of going out to celebrate.”
– Second half of ‘terror’-
The fans joined in a cascade of insults when three goals disallowed in the first half for offside, with VAR involved. Norberto Protzmann told AFP that he sat “in terror” during the second half.
“We underestimated them too much and they dominated us in the second half,” he said.
“The players had too much confidence, while the rival team put their lives into each play, because they knew they were up against a great team. And it worked well for them.”
Gustavo Leal, 75, complained about the use of VAR and said that “soccer with technology is no longer soccer.”
“This World Cup needs (Diego) Maradona,” he said, referring to the great Argentine who died in 2020.
But he remained optimistic.
“The first game is as hard as the last. I trust him,” he said of coach Lionel Scaloni, adding that he was a “measured guy who knows how to lead the team.”
Now, all eyes are on Saturday’s game against Mexico, to see if the team can turn their luck around.
“Mexico is a very difficult team and it has always been difficult for Argentina,” Protzmann said.
“If we don’t put our lives into every play, we won’t win, especially against Mexico.”