Football is the number 1 sport in Argentina!

The first match took place in 1867 in Buenos Aires, at the initiative of two British immigrants. They also founded the very first Argentine football club. A century later, in 1978, Argentina hosted the World Cup, which they won in the final against the Netherlands by 3 goals to 1. The following year saw the emergence of the man who would become a living legend of football: Diego Armando Maradona. El Pibe de oro will make the glory of Argentine football and become a real myth, in Argentina but also in Naples in Italy. Outstanding dribbler and genius scorer, he remains the emblematic player of the 80s and 90s.

It should be noted that football would have been introduced in Argentina by the Italian community and that it was not for nothing in the integration of the latter. The English got involved very early on too. According to connoisseurs, we can also distinguish in the style of the Argentines certain character traits of Italian football, reconciling brilliant technique and roublardise, mixed with a dose of seriousness and more Anglo-Saxon efficiency! Madness and elegance are part of the more South American characteristics that complete the whole to make Argentina one of the most beautiful teams in the world. She has not won the World Cup since 1986, despite reaching the final in 2014... Case to follow?

  


Thanks to a strong popular base and mythical players like Lionel Messi, Alfredo Di Stéfano and of course Diego Maradona, football has become in Argentina more than a sport, more than an institution: a real religion, for millions of fans.

 

Football in Argentina, a religion?

This is not just an image, when we know that Diego Maradona is the subject of a real religious cult followed by tens of thousands of devotees in the world, with his feast days and his prayer! Maradona is indeed one of the greatest players of the twentieth century, a virtuoso who marked the history of the sport with his extravagant goals. His second goal against England in the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup is often described as the "goal of the century"...  But the first goal of the match is just as famous, and for good reason: he scored it with his hand! Yes, but it was "the Hand of God"...

 

Thanks to this legendary match, Maradona was finally able to realize his childhood dream: to allow Argentina to win a World Cup, the second after that of 1978. Since then, Maradona's image has largely been tarnished, between drug problems, Neapolitan mafia or tax, variety shows, support for controversial political leaders such as Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez... His time as coach of the Argentine national team ended in a rout: in 2017, he coached a 2nd division team in the United Arab Emirates. However, no one would think of denying him this status of living myth that has made generations of fans dream in Argentina, in Naples (which was long his club) and throughout the football world.

 

"El Diego" is not the only player to have elevated Argentine football to the rank of cult

You also have to count with Lionel Messi... which lives up to its name! Born in 1987, the striker from Rosario holds the record for the number of Ballons d'Or (tied with Cristiano Ronaldo) supreme distinction won without interruption from 2009 to 2012 and then in 2015... One is seriously beginning to wonder what the Argentines season their asados with  to get such champions. Lionel Messi is the top scorer in the history of the country's team, the Spanish championship (he works for FC Barcelona). He is often considered the best player in the world today, and sometimes the best player of all time... Elbow-to-elbow with the most sulphurous Maradona!

 

Let's not forget the oldest in Argentine football

Alfredo Di Stefano in the 50s, Ossie Ardiles, Passarella (captain of the team that won the World Cup in 78) and Mario Kempes in the 70s-80s (just before the reign of Maradona), Batistuta in the 90s, were each among the best players in the world in their time and united the Argentine people in the celebration of their exploits,  beyond the political or economic turbulence that the country may have suffered during these decades.

 

 

And the national championship?

If these prophets have profoundly marked the imagination of millions of fans, the national championship is also a saga marked by mythical clashes. The most famous rivalry is that between the two clubs of Buenos Aires: Boca Juniors, crowned by the passage of Maradona in the early 80s and based in a popular district, and the River Plate, a club reputed bourgeois. The Superclasico between the two clubs are often the subject of clashes between supporters, since September 20, 1931... River Plate is the most successful club in the history of the championship, which it has won 36 times, while Boca Juniors is at 32, including those of 2015 and 2017. Boca holds its revenge by appearing in the Top 5 clubs that have won the most international championships, with 18 titles. As we have understood, the fact of supporting this or that team is anything but trivial and few do not do without it in the Argentine capital.

 

If the cities of Argentina are full of people and screaming televisions on match nights, the passion for football is also reflected in improvised matches on street corners, shared between all generations. Women also shine: if the women's national team does not have the same international prestige as the men's team, it is still recognized as one of the best on the continent, along with that of Brazil.

 

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