When Argentina and Germany face off in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium on Sunday, Argentina native and Piropos Kansas City owner Cristina Worden will be readying a bottle of wine, donning the same white and blue shirt she has worn for Argentina’s last two matches.
Germany native Markus Steffek, a financial analyst at Black and Veatch, will be wearing his jersey from the 2006 World Cup and a German flag.
For German and Argentine soccer fans living in Kansas City, being so far away from their home countries hasn’t stopped them from feeling the excitement of their teams’ berths in the World Cup final.
“I am more excited than I could be about anything in my life,” Steffek said.
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Worden said she nearly lost her voice Wednesday after screaming at the TV during Argentina’s victory over the Netherlands in the semifinals. She expects to do the same thing Sunday.
But the appeal of being among fans in their home countries hasn’t escaped expatriates like Argentine and Sporting Kansas City forward Claudio Bieler.
“I wish I would be back home celebrating with all of my friends and family this triumph for the national team of Argentina,” Bieler said via a translator. “But there’s a lot of Argentines all over the world, and they will celebrate everywhere they are.”
Worden said she, too, would like to be in Argentina right now but is looking forward to being there in three weeks, possibly still celebrating an Argentine win.
For Steffek, it’s the magnitude of people in the streets that makes him want to be in Germany during the World Cup.
“My friends told me after the victory against Brazil they were driving around in cars and waving German flags and honking their horns,” Steffek said. “There is a bigger party after the game (in Germany).”
One question being talked about before Sunday’s game: who will the Brazilians root for? Will they root for their biggest rival, Argentina, to win on their home soil, or will they back the Germans who handed the Brazilians an excruciating 7-1 defeat in the semifinals.
The answer is not that clear.
Bieler said he thinks the Brazilians, including his Brazilian Sporting teammates, will root for Germany to win.
“No, that would never happen,” Claudio said of Brazilians backing the Argentina national team. “Brazilians would never cheer for Argentina, and all the population of Brazil wants Argentina to lose, but it’s OK because (the Argentines) have (Diego) Maradona, (Lionel) Messi and the pope on their side.”
Considering that Pope Francis was born in Buenos Aires, that seems to be a mutual common feeling among many Argentines.
“I think the Pope is helping us a lot this year,” Worden said.
Still, Worden said she believes the Brazilians will support the Argentines. At least that is what she thinks she would do if she were in their shoes.
“Yes, no doubt,” she said. “But that’s the way I am. I like rivalry but I cannot say, ‘I don’t like this team because they are from here,’ no. I like them because they are very good players.
“After all, we all belong to the same part of the world.”
For Steffek, he’s just hoping luck is on the side of the Germans, he said.
The last two championships for both teams in the World Cup came against each other. Argentina defeated the Germans 3-2 in 1986. In 1990 the two met on the pitch again, with West Germany earning the 1-0 victory.
While the celebrations likely will not meet the level of madness that will surely ensue in Germany or Argentina, that won’t stop fans from celebrating a victory in Kansas City.
“Yes, I am going to open a bottle of Malbec and drink it in honor of the (Argentines),” Worden said.
Said Steffek: “I will jump inside up and down like a 5-year-old kid on Christmas.”