So the 2014 World Cup climaxes on Sunday evening with Argentina’s overwhelmingly European-based team taking on Joachim Low’s Germany, the mighty conquerors of Brazil. Which of the semis will it most resemble: the goalscoring orgy of Tuesday night (one German player has said they eased off to stop it becoming even more embarrassing for the hosts) or the no-score bore of 24 hours later? You have seen the German ‘Who are You?’ with James Brock. Here is the balancing interview with Sebastián Masquelet,* an Argentinian writer on holiday in London. It was clearly optimistic to try to draw him on matters Sunderland …
Salut! Sunderland: Not a great semi, especially after the goal feast in Brazil vs Germany but you must be thrilled to be in the final. Please explain what it means to the Argentinian people.
Sebastián: Football in Argentina is much more than a sport. The joy and happiness it produces goes well beyond the sport sphere; and, in the case of football, it´s almost a whole culture in itself. People are just thrilled. I am!
Is it also important that we have both the major footballing continents, South America and Europe, represented in a final taking place in the former?
Yes, I think it is important, specially because the last two finals were disputed between European countries. Argentina is finally back on a world final after a long time and, hence, yes, South American football stands high.
Are you surprised at how many top Argentinian players now make their living in Europe? I think all the starting 11 against the Netherlands, and all except Rodriguez among the subs, play in the European leagues.
Well, actually I a not surprised. It´s been a long time now [during which] the world football leagues operate like the markets: wherever the cash flows, best players go. It´s simply like that. Unfortunately, South American football leagues sometimes end up operating like “export markets” to the European leagues.
Messi is widely regarded as the world’s best player. Who else has been especially important to Argentina in Brazil?
Di María, Mascherano, Higuaínm in a lesser degree. Let´s hope they’re all at their best for the final.
Is the rivalry between you and Brazil deep enough to make you delighted at their terrible semi result or were you as sad as many neutrals?
Hard to answer…let´s just say 7-1 was, maybe…too much. But I guess it would have been nice to see the Brazilian audience support Argentina instead of Holland…
Germany are formidable final opponents. Do you accept underdog status?
Absolutely. It´s easier that way!
What is you assessment of Alejandro Sabella’s achievements as head coach?
Already a success. Many things left aside, results are results, and we are in the final.
And what do you make of the 2014 World Cup as a whole?
Argentina made it to the final. Germany is playing at a superb level. Difficult to think about anything else right now…
Since this is a Sunderland site, I should mention Scocco and one of loan players last season, Vergini, who was excellent at the end after a slow start. ANy thoughts on them as players? And on a lighter note, how on earth does a man from South America cope with life in the cold, windy North East?
One important question: you are in London. Have you sensed any warmth towards the Argentine side on the part of the British, rising the obvious diplomatic issue that separates the two countries?
Absolutely. I´m actually very much impressed by the amount of British people that have told me they are supporting Argentina. It´s fantastic: would have never though so…
Where will you watch the game on Sunday, how will you celebrate victory/mourn defeat and what, come to that, will the the score
I think Sunday we will be celebrating our third world cup. Maybe 1-0, perhaps by penalties…I´ll be watching it at home, with friends. To plan a defeat it´s not an option…
* Sebastián Masquelet on himself: I am a writer on holiday in London ans I support San Lorenzo de Almagro.
Interview: Colin Randall (with thanks to Martin Suaya, press officer at the Argentine embassy on London, for so readily agreeing to set it up)
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