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Rio braces for Argentina's World Cup fan frenzy

11 July 2014, 10:11

Rio de Janiero - Rio de Janeiro braced Thursday for up to 100,000 Argentine fans arriving by car, bus and motor-home for the World Cup final against Germany at the iconic Maracana Stadium.

Argentina had already sent the biggest contingent of fans to Brazil during the month-long tournament, flooding cities to follow their hero Lionel Messi's team, even though many have not even had tickets to the games.

Tens of thousands who were in Sao Paulo for Wednesday's semi-final triumph against the Netherlands hit the road the next day for the six-hour trek across the southeastern region ahead of Sunday's final.

They were joining others who have been in Rio for days already, anticipating their team's triumph while camping out at the Terreirao do Samba, an open-air concert venue now packed with cars, minibuses and motor-homes.

Since that venue is full, authorities are offering to house the newcomers nearby at the Sambadrome, the arena that normally hosts Rio's sensual and colorful Carnival parade. Police want to prevent a repeat of them setting up camp on Copacabana.

- 'Maradona better than Pele' -

At the Terreirao do Samba, Brazilian beats were replaced by the taunting chants of Argentine fans who sang "Brazil, tell me how you feel! Maradona is better than Pele!"

Alan Risso, a 22-year-old prison guard, said he had left the Argentine city of Santa Fe, 2,600 kilometers from Rio, with a friend on Saturday afternoon, and they hitchhiked their way north.

"We saw the Argentina-Belgium (quarter-final) on Saturday in a truck," said Risso, who sleeps on the ground under the stars.

On Wednesday they were on Copacabana beach, watching the game against the Dutch on a giant screen with thousands of other football fans at the official "Fan Fest."

For the final, they hope to find a location close to the Maracana, the home of Brazilian football.



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