Goals shouted from the depth of the lungs, firecrackers, honks, spontaneous gatherings of unknowns on the streets, nothing seems too much when celebrating a cup in Argentina. Especially in Buenos Aires, a city that exhales football through every pore and dresses accordingly in the colours of the winner, non-footballing citizens and losers can't help but finding themselves captives of the victory tide.
Not last Sunday anyway. Not the day in which Argentina obtained the World Cup U-20. Again. Despite the high TV viewings and the endless lines written in newspapers, that went by as quiet a Sunday as any other winter football-less Sunday in Argentina.
Imposingly, five of the last seven world cups in this category were won by Argentina, cumulating a total of six in the thirty years of history of this tournament.
The first one was delivered in 1979 by a dearly remembered pair: Ramón Díaz and Diego Maradona, who claimed to have played his best football in that team. Considering the mouth that uttered those words or, better said, the left foot of that mouth, it's not hard to imagine exactly how good that football was. Or maybe it is. A final with Brazil in 1995, another with Uruguay in 1997, a home victory in 2001 with Saviola's record of eleven goals and the kick off of Messi's era in 2005 were the stops to the 'again' in 2007.
The WC U-20 took place under the shadow of Copa América and ironically ended casting a merciless light into the senior team and the final where 'it was all yellow'. No, the 'again' is not conceited and uppish, not even anesthetized by the habit of U-20 cups, or at least not entirely, but it's mostly saddened, disconcerted and slightly accusatory of the habit of not winning cups of the elders.
Nonetheless, whatever the context, the squad and coach, Hugo Tocalli (previously, Pekerman's assistant), deserve the accolades. If, as it is said, every champion needs to first experience rough times to forge character, this team forged its own at the South American Championship in which the qualification for the World Cup to be held in Canada was put in check.
In the beginning of the WC, they hammered Panama 6 - 0 and later on outplayed the joint favourites in this tournament, Mexico and Chile, the latter resulting in incidents between fans, players and the police. The fibre was displayed in the final, after an anxious start and the opener scored beautifully by the Czech Fenin and so was the flair. In the second half, Banega was lord and master of the midfield, Moralez moved mischievously from flank to flank, from box to box, and Aguero's back proved to be strong enough to carry the ten in his shirt. So convincing were the last 45 minutes that little it was noticed the absence of defender and captain Cahais, the speed and goals of De María and the homeostatic presence of Yacob.
As Tocalli puts it: "The objective is always the same: collaborate in the growth of footballers," these teams invite you to think about the future, the path that will hopefully lead them to the senior national team. A path that could be bumpy and bumpier if footballers keep emigrating early, as Insua (Liverpool) and Fazio (Sevilla), to foreign benches.