The seventh grade classroom of school 9 in Palermo was a reflection of the country: from the illusion of the win to the inexplicable defeat.
Everyone stops to shout Argentina’s second goal open-throated and the teacher sets off one of the paper-thrower flares, the second of the three they bought for the game. “Off side?” says a boy. “Was it off side?” Vanina Casali, director of the school, also asks. Minutes later, with Lautaro Martínez’s accurate kick, she will use the last of the cotillion cartridges. It is also forward position.
“I only bought three. I didn’t think I was going to use them all in the first half hour,” the director holds her head. Around them the boys wave the pennants that they were given when they arrived. There will be about 30 in total.
Every time Lionel Messi touches the ball, it sounds like a whisper. “Go ahead, Messi,” says the boy in the overalls and painted face. “Yes, Messi”, another girl. “Oh, Messi, give him it’s yours”, a third. It is as if they were praying softly, with their gaze fixed 40 inches from their idols.
Marisel, one of the mothers who accompany her from the colored plastic chairs, hurries so as not to be late for work. “I’m not a soccer fan, my baby, but she asked me to come see him with my friends and how was I going to say no,” she explains.
The 9 OF 9 Juan Crisóstomo Lafinur school does not usually open until 7.45, but this Tuesday, at the request of the seventh grade students, the teachers opened earlier, with party favors, light blue and white balloons and breakfast for halftime.
“Messi is my favorite player because he always scores all the goals and he’s a good person,” says Rocío, an 8-year-old River fan. Sabrina (9) plays soccer for a club and her favorite players are Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, “because they are the ones who have won the most cups.” Mora (8), from Boca, calculates that they owe 8 or 9 cups. Valentina (8 ) usually watches the games with his grandmother.
For Brian (11) “the referee is re-bought” for the disallowed goals. Benhamin is 11 years old and is from River. How much are we going to win for?”, he asks Clarín and shows the ten fingers, closes his hand and opens it again. He repeats it, hits the table, feigns an attack by hitting the table with his eyes blank. And he continues. From what he’s trying to say, it’s going to be a landslide.
Nobody wants to believe it when, as soon as the second half starts, Saudi Arabia scores a goal. Outraged, they yell at the screen, blow vuvuzelas and blow whistles. They all scream.
Already the second goal of the green shirt is too much. 2-1 against Saudi Arabia? It is impossible. “Nooooooooooooooo”, yells Benjamín who got up from his chair.
One starts to sing and the rest follow. “Ar-gen-tina, Ar-gen-tina, Ar-gen-ti-na”. There are 50 high-pitched voices waving for the national team. No one expected the game to turn around like this, after all the chances for the team to score and the almost non-existent arrival at the goal of Saudi Arabia.
The 63rd minute is tragic. It is Messi’s corner that almost ends in a goal. They all think so, that he got in, and it’s a united cry of relief. But 10 seconds later the balloon is punctured. The repetition shows how it goes one way and now no one sings.
Now the faces look hopelessly. The girl in the seventh row has been sitting idle for 5 minutes. There are 15 minutes left in the game, but even if they turn around, they all arrived for the win and everything looks very different. The first minutes of throwing papers and pennants were left behind.
The 80th minute free kick that goes over the arc, despite the fact that it is the soccer star who kicks, already makes more than one pull their hair out. “I want to die”, shouts a boy. Benjamin continues to wave the pennant. “Quiet, quiet,” he asks his companions. The fans who are in Qatar are also seen touching their foreheads.