Wherever Argentina fans go, whether in Qatar or back home, they make themselves heard. A colourful and noisy crowd of tens of thousands, with high hopes for the national team, their presence has increased as the team has progressed, and more have arrived in Doha looking forward to celebrate a victory in the World Cup final against France on Sunday.
And wherever they go, the same song is heard again and again. "Muchachos, ahora nos volvimos a ilusionar" (which can be loosely translated as "Guys, now we have hope once again") has made it from the streets and the stands into the Argentina dressing room, where it has become part of the celebrations after every victory. And before the tournament started, it was picked by captain Lionel Messi as his favourite.
"I was born in Argentina/land of Diego and Lionel/of the Malvinas kids/whom I will never forget", is how the song is opened by singer Guillermo Novellis, frontman of La Mosca. The band were popular in Argentina in the late 1990s and the turn of the century with hits including the original version of the song that has become Argentina's official 2022 anthem.
The reference to "Malvinas kids" is a tribute to the young conscripts who fought and died in 1982 during a three-month war between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands, located in the Atlantic Ocean about 300 miles off the coast of South America, a British overseas territory since 1833 and claimed by Argentina ever since.
The conflict was fresh in the minds of fans and players alike in 1986, when Diego Maradona single-handedly (no pun intended) defeated England in the quarterfinals of the Mexico World Cup. In a 2-1 victory, Maradona scored the first by punching the ball past the keeper for a goal he later called "The Hand of God," and then he dribbled past half the English team to net the second in what is recognized as the best goal in World Cup history.
Argentina went on to win their second World Cup in eight years, but have failed to win it ever since. Maradona played in the 1-0 loss to West Germany in 1990, while Messi was part of the 2014 team that lost by the same scoreline to Germany.
The chorus of the song makes it clear it is time to go for the third trophy: "Lads, now we have hope once again/I want to win the third one/I want to be world champions/And Diego, we can see him up in the sky/with Don Diego and La Tota/cheering for Lionel, so that we can be champions again."
Those lyrics bring together Maradona and Messi, the two biggest footballing heroes in the country, as if trying to end the discussion on who was the best. It depicts Maradona cheering for Lionel from above, together with his parents, Diego and Dalma.
Maradona, who died in November 2020, is closely tied to the new version of the song. Fernando Romero, then a 30-year old teacher, decided to write a song to express his feelings about both Maradona and the Copa America title in 2021, the first big win for the Argentina national team in 28 years.
He wrote new lyrics to a 2003 song by La Mosca -- "Muchachos, esta noche me emborracho" ("Guys, tonight I will get drunk") -- a tune that had already served as the basis to various fan chants across the country.
Adapting songs from popular bands has been common practice in football stadiums in Argentina for decades and La Mosca's catchy style, combining rock, pop and ska have made them one of the most popular choices for fans since the beginning of their career. But Romero's version spread quickly and went to a whole new level in June 2022; after Argentina beat European champions 3-0 to win the intercontinental Finalissima match in London, the players celebrated in the Wembley locker room by singing "Muchachos..."
Back in Argentina, La Mosca recorded a new version and released it with an accompanying video which features Romero. Needless to say, both the song and the video have been hugely popular, respectively racking up totals of 4.4 million plays on Spotify and 8.7m views on YouTube by the day before the final.
Those numbers are sure to swell further on Sunday when "Muchachos" will be heard constantly, both in and around Lusail Stadium and back at home in Argentina. Fans and players now have hope it also becomes the soundtrack of celebrations for a third World Cup triumph.
Information from EFE was used in this report, which was first published by ESPN Argentina.