As for as one 27-hour period could go, there could not have been a worse such time frame in Brazil’s recent memory than the period between kickoff of Brazil’s World Cup semifinal against Germany and the final whistle of Argentina’s semifinal against the Netherlands.
First, Brazil suffered the most humiliating defeat in its glorious history, a 7-1 battering by Germany so brutal and complete that many Brazilians couldn’t help but laugh to keep from crying. As much as the absences of Neymar and Thiago Silva were going to make things very tough, nobody could have imagined the beating Germany would inflict on the World Cup host.
As if that indignity wasn’t rough enough, just one day later Brazilians stood helplessly and watched arch-rival Argentina deliver a dramatic penalty kick shootout victory in Sao Paulo that helped book Argentina’s first trip to the World Cup final since 1990.
You could tell just how badly Brazilians wanted Argentina to lose as they cheered every positive Dutch play and booed and whistled any time Argentina would threaten, or Lionel Messi would touch the ball. If you closed your eyes you would have thought the semifinal was being played in Amsterdam.
Brazil’s disdain for its rivals didn’t stop the Argentines in Arena Corinthians from enjoying the evening. After Maxi Rodriguez sealed the victory with his spot kick, the party started and Argentine fans stayed in the stadium as long as they were allowed.
Argentines poured into the streets of Sao Paulo to celebrate the victory, rain and chilly weather be damned. After nearly a quarter-century wait, you couldn’t really blame them for wanting to enjoy every minute of it, particularly knowing that Brazilians would be forced to watch them celebrate.
Perhaps Argentina fans are also aware that there may be no such chance to party on Sunday, when a showdown with red-hot Germany awaits in the final. The Germans are the favorites to lift the World Cup trophy, but in this World Cup, surprises have become the norm.
For Brazilians, the World Cup effectively ended five days early, and as much as there is still a third-place match to play with the Netherlands, there will be little solace provided by even the most impressive victory on Saturday. Especially not when they will be forced to watch Sunday’s World Cup final in Rio De Janeiro with Argentina taking part.
One thing is clear. The Brazilians that do turn out for Sunday’s final will be rooting for Germany. That may sound crazy considering the beating the Germans just inflicted on their national team, but some things are more important than one bad loss. In the case of Brazil, having Argentina lift the World Cup trophy on Brazilian soil would be even worse than the 27-hour nightmare Brazil suffered earlier this week.