Messi’s hometown gears up for the World Cup final

By Rodrigo Garcia

Rosario, Argentina, Dec 17 (EFE).- The residents of Rosario, the hometown of Argentina football team captain Lionel Messi but also of Angel Di Maria and many other Argentinian legends of the game, were a bunch of nerves ahead of the World Cup final clash between Argentina and France on Sunday.

Both France and Argentina are looking to win their third World Cup title.

“We are all excited…we’re very anxious but we know that tomorrow we will be champions for sure,” said one of the residents, Silvina, who decided to go on Saturday to the National Flag Memorial, the city’s best-known monument to celebrate a victory, to cheer the team on the eve of the final.

A lively atmosphere prevailed there, with a murga orchestra and a massive jersey of ‘La Pulga’, Messi’s nickname.

Silvina referred to the possibility that this could be Messi’s last World Cup.

“Hopefully not,” she told EFE, accompanied by her husband, Cristian, and children.

She explained how the Albiceleste, as the country’s football team is known, is the only one that is bringing joy to Argentina right now.

“Maybe he changes his mind…maybe he (plays) another (World Cup),” said Claudia, who also came to the monument with her family.

“We love Messi… Messi, Messi, Messi, Messi,” she chanted, adding that irrespective of the match’s outcome, “we’re happy for what they gave, happy for the team, we love them. It doesn’t matter, first place…second.”

Rosario is located 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Buenos Aires, on the banks of the Paraná River and has a population of around 1 million.

It is the third largest city in Argentina, and, for many, the cradle of football. Not only is it the birthplace of Messi and Angel Di Maria, but also Ángel Correa.

Goalkeeper Franco Armani was born in Casilda, just 60 kilometers away while Pujato, the hometown of the Argentinian coach, Lionel Scaloni, is a mere half an hour away by car.

Rosario’s streets have been painted blue and white for weeks.

Match after match, crowds of fans have gathered in houses, bars or in front of giant screens set up in the city, including La Bajada, the modest neighborhood where Messi grew up and started playing football a quarter of a century ago. EFE


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