I rarely have favorite teams during the World Cup. I have slight preferences (for the Italians) or some temporarily aroused patriotic feelings (for the Americans), but, generally, it's just watching the Cup and letting a favorite emerge. Every four years brings a very different team, after all, even if they're wearing (basically) the same jersey.
My one exception to this is Argentina. Masters of the operatic dive and the unnecessary, underhanded foul, Argentina is my World Cup villain every single time.
Today, they face off against the Netherlands, a match up that immediately reminds me of their 1998 meeting, the game that made me hate Argentina forever and ever.
That year, the Dutch were incredible, playing beautiful, graceful, methodical soccer, led by the dashing Patrick Kluivert, the de Boer twins, and anchored by the seemingly 12-foot-tall human rubber band, Edwin van der Sar. France may have triumphed that year and Zidane became the hero, but it was the Dutch that won my heart in 1998.
And then came the quarterfinals and the Argentines, led by the dastardly dwarf Ariel Ortega. Ortega could not enter the box that game without leaping into the air, gripping a leg or a side, and rolling around, whining for a penalty kick. It was despicable. It was the kind of tactic that even I, a mediocre player who often made up with my elbows for what my feet couldn't do, couldn't abide. It was a disgusting sight, and I prayed for Kluivert and Bergkamp to bump a few in the net, and send the Argentines packing.
And that's when this happened.
The headbutt that, to me, is worse than anything Pepe or Zidane did.
It's silly, but I cannot forgive and I cannot forgive. Especially in this World Cup, where the Dutch—and the bionic Arjen Robben, who runs like the Terminator crossed with Forrest Gump—have won my heart anew.