Durban: Brazil kicked off their World Cup rivalry with Argentina on Friday when striker Luis Fabiano said his team oozed happiness and complained others were bitter, aiming his taunt at his country’s neighbours.
“Happiness is inside us,” Luis Fabiano told reporters. “If they’re not happy it’s their problem. We’re happy to be here and we’re happy in this country.
“Brazil is a happy country with samba, carnival and party,” added the striker known as the Fabulous One.
“Everywhere we go, we have this happiness and it comes from inside. Some have it, others are bitter in life.”
Argentina midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron sparked the verbal exchange the day before by saying if the World Cup was down to laughing, then Brazil would always win.
Although his comments were clearly tongue-in-cheek, they still managed to tweak Brazilian sensitivities, showing how easily the rivalry between the teams can be stoked.
“If it was just about laughing, Brazil would win every year,” said Veron. “It’s good to be upbeat, but we have to play football and not dance samba, otherwise those guys in yellow would always beat us.”
Brazil are unbeaten in their last five full internationals against Argentina, having won four, although they suffered an emphatic 3-0 defeat against their neighbours at the Beijing Olympics which featured under-23 teams.
Argentina last won a full international against Brazil five years ago.
With Argentina in Group B and Brazil in Group G, the pair would not meet until the final if they win their respective groups, although they could clash in the semi-finals if one finishes top and the other second.
Their last meeting at the World Cup was in 1990 when Argentina won 1-0.