It is only a day after the World Cup final, and there are four years (around 1,461 days) still to unwind until the next one, yet I am already cheering for Argentina to win the next World Cup.
I was alive 24 years ago and rooting for Argentina to beat Germany in the Italia '90 final. My idolization of Diego Maradona was the sole purpose for my support of Argentina.
I watched in horror as the final slipped away from them, as the referee dismissed two of their players during the match and then, to add insult to injury, awarded Germany the dubious penalty kick which won them the final.
I wasn't gutted (if I remember well); merely sad. Maradona didn't lift the trophy as I had hoped. He had done so in the 1986 edition, thereby making Argentina the darling of impressionable kids.
The "Hand of God" incident became the stuff of admiration and exaggeration, spawning imitations in which local referees "failed to see" any handball on these occasions.
The magic moment, you see, had to be recreated, relived, re-adored, re-idolized. Magic, you must see as well, is not the normal stuff of the grinding doldrums of life. So when you see it, when you experience it, you want to cherish it, elongate it, savor it, recreate it, relive it.
Yesterday, I was firmly with Germany. I was rooting for an ideal ending for the fantastic 2014 tournament.
Seven matches, the number of perfection, have to be played to win the World Cup, and Germany emerged from them all worthy of the champion's crown.
They began ruthlessly against Portugal. Ghana boxed them to a draw. They didn't break a sweat against the USA. Algeria unexpectedly pinned them to the canvass, and only their experience and resilience saw them through that match.
Now they were scarred. Questions began to surface: Is this the mighty Germany, the ruthless machine, supposedly invincible? Nah, they are not so great after all, are they? They aren't, said certain experts; they'll fall to France.
Only they didn't. Instead, they were efficient.
And then came this tournament's own moment of magic: Germany demolished the almighty Brazil. It was an emasculation of a nation's symbolic manhood.
All at once, everyone started believing again. Yes, this were the mighty Germans, the invincible machine, the efficient planners, the best national team in the world (poor Spain was quickly forgotten). They must win. They had to win. I wanted them to win, too.
I had always wanted them to win this tournament. I desired that a generation of talented players be crowned with the highest laurel the sport can offer. I wanted a neat ending to the narrative. I am glad this happened.
But am I rooting for Germany to win the next edition of the World Cup, which is to be held in Russia? Not at all; no more than I was cheering for Spain to win the tournament again in Brazil after winning the previous edition.
I would love to see Italy knocked out in the group stage again, England still trapped in the labyrinth of its own confused identity, France underachieve, Germany avenged by Argentina and Spain still flabbergasted by an inexplicable lack of cohesion and success.
Why would I wish all this? Because I do not like too much predictability. What is the point of a World Cup in which the usual suspects always triumph?
I would rather see Belgium flower and flourish in Russia; Brazil, having learned humility, redeem itself (not by winning the World Cup necessarily but doing enough to restore its credibility); Portugal going as far as possible, as well as Chile and the USA, too.
If the Netherlands were to win it, or Belgium or Portugal, I would not mind. I would like to see a big surge in the competition from the African contingents, not the drama of wages that is now their wont.
But most of all, I'd like to see Argentina win the next edition of the World Cup. Here is why.
I like neat endings, like I said. So I'd like to see the greatest player of our generation win the World Cup. I am assuming that Lionel Messi will still be playing for Argentina at 31.
Winning the World Cup will stop the unfair comparison between Messi and Maradona, that purported shadow under which he is to perpetually exist.
I cannot recall any magic moment from Maradona in the 1990 World Cup.
In fact, Maradona (as much as Messi) failed to lead his country to victory. And if Messi was anonymous in yesterday's final, was Maradona not as anonymous too in that final?
And what magical moments did Maradona conjure in the 1982 finals? All in all, how many magical moments did he create in all of his World Cup performances? Three?— the Hand of God, the dribbling past half of England's defense, the assist in the final?
Didn't Messi produce four magical moments in this World Cup: the goals against Iran, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Nigeria, and the assist against Belgium?
I want to see Messi's glory moment come on the world stage. This is why I want Argentina to win the World Cup in 2018. I hope Argentina will begin planning immediately to ensure this happens.
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