And one day, Lionel Messi cried.
And Emiliano Martínez, Rodrigo de Paul, Ángel Di María and Lionel Scaloni also cried.
And 80,000 Argentines who overflowed the River Plate Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires this Thursday to the cry of “Muchachos…”, the anthem that accompanied the world champions on their journey to Qatar.
Then the anthem played and the tears returned.
Came back home, so the party never ends.
The party was the least.
Panama was a respectful guest of the host;
It would have been in poor taste to ruin such an event.
Argentina finally won 2-0.
The celebration was complete: in the 43rd minute of the second half, Messi converted the 800th goal of his career from a free kick and was one away from reaching one hundred with the Argentine Camisea.
"Messi, Messi", they sang in the stands.
Everything is so that the spell that runs through Argentina since that final against France at the Lusail stadium, a little over three months ago, is not broken.
The Argentine team owed this party.
The ecstasy of four million Argentines left a bitter taste last December 20, when they arrived with the World Cup and had to complete a route designed to be done by bus by helicopter.
Now they had a free field for themselves, without the pressure to win.
The Argentine Football Association (AFA) thought of the match more as a tribute than as a sporting event.
There was music at the start and at halftime, quite a novelty.
And Scaloni made an effort to put as many players as possible on the pitch.
They had been in the stadium for eight hours.
To avoid crowds, they arrived very early and in batches, aboard small vans.
The challenge for the organizers was to manage the rush to see the world champions.
Almost two million people tried to buy a ticket through the AFA's digital sales system.
An hour and a half after the start, there was no longer a free seat.
Then the resale was activated and many fell into the trap.
The television showed desperate fans who found out in front of the turnstile that their tickets were fake.
"I bought them on Instagram, for four times what they are worth," resigned a man in his 40s accompanied by his son.
They had traveled from Formosa, 1,100 kilometers north of Buenos Aires and were now on the street.
It wasn't easy for journalists either: 131,000 applications for accreditation left the majority out.
Argentina's fans celebrate before the match between Lionel Messi's team and Panama's team in Buenos Aires, on March 23, 2023. EMILIANO LASALVIA (AFP)
Half an hour before the game, the thousands who crowded without tickets in front of the security fences clashed with stones with the police.
But when the eleven from Argentina entered the field of play, football returned, the goals and the heat of the fans.
And at the end, the prizes.
Messi and Scaloni received theirs, and even the president of the AFA, Claudio Tapia, raised a plaque amid some whistles.
At the height of the festivities, the stadium joined in a "go ahead, champion", the original cry dedicated to the captain.
And then there was a replica of the World Cup for each of the players, who became fans shouting, again, "Boys...".
To close, Sergio Goycochea, goalkeeper for the champion team in Mexico 86 who became a television host, asked Messi to raise the cup.
"Personally, I always dreamed of celebrating with you," Messi told the entire stadium.
“Coming to my country, Argentina, to lift a Copa América and now a World Cup.
Today is the day where we all celebrate, but I don't want to forget all the colleagues who previously did everything possible to achieve this.
It was not given to us, but they deserve the respect of the Argentine people because they gave up everything for this shirt, "he said, and issued a warning:" Let's enjoy the third star, because we don't know when we're going to get another one.
Winning the Cup is very difficult”.
Messi did not stop smiling, while his children played in the field.
Lionel Scaloni could barely speak when he took the microphone, flooded with tears.
The stadium chanted his name.
“This is all because of you,” he said.
Messi smiled like a child on his birthday.
He raised the glass once more, turned around and cried again.
"We are world champions," Goycochea shouted, euphoric.
La Scaloneta was home again.
The players of the Argentine national team raise the World Cup during the tribute in Buenos Aires, AGUSTIN MARCARIAN (REUTERS)
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