World Cup Tournament Time: Argentina vs. Brazil


Even though the United States didn’t qualify for this year’s World Cup, our team of South America and Central America travel experts here in the U.S. have found plenty of rooting interests in the tournament all the same. When you spend as much time getting to know the people and the places across South America the way we have, you develop some pretty profound ties and you can’t help but pull for the countries you know intimately.
While the tournament isn’t affecting South America with quite the same impact it had in 2012 when Brazil hosted the month-long international event, it’s safe to say the world’s most important international soccer (or football!) contest is a big deal across all of South America and Central America. It’s actually a pretty rich time to be exploring the countries participating in the tournament, as it presents a surge of national pride and cultural expression rarely experienced outside of national holidays, and there’s something to be said for the unforgettable experience of watching with the locals.
As usual, Brazil and Argentina are among the potential favorites to win the tournament and present the best chance at bringing the gold trophy back to South America. As the world soccer (or football!) super power and five-time tournament winners, Brazil are always a popular pick to win it all. Argentina is another of the most successful national soccer teams in the world and has won the top trophy twice in its history, last winning the tournament in 1986, and most recently losing 1-0 to Germany in the finals in Brazil in 2012.
While the tournament is a great time to see South America turned up, if you’re not already in South America, then it’s a great time to get a feel for the unique flavors that each South American destination brings to the table, or if you prefer, pitch.
As you watch the crowds you hear the songs and cheers from their fanatic supporters and it’s easy to start to get a sense of, and even an attachment to, the countries themselves simply through the people and their impassioned reactions to triumph and defeat on the global sporting stage.
For those on the hunt for a national team to adopt and hopefully ride to glory, Southern Explorations presents some of our favorite things about Argentina and Brazil to help you make your rooting - and travel -  choice!
  1. If you’re looking to cheer on a fleet-footed group, then the Argentineans might be the way to go. The people of Argentina have a passion for dance, the most famous of course being the tango. The tango is such an integral part of the country’s history that UNESCO has officially recognized the dance as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. 
  1. If precise preparation appeals to you, then let’s talk about asado. No, asado is not the same as barbecue, at least not if you ask an Argentinean. And they would know. Asado is more like a fine art than it is cooking. We could try to convey the intrinsic understanding of heat and meat the Argentinians possess with cooking directions, but the way to live it proper is to have a true Argentinean prepare it for you. The only thing that could taste better is victory!
  1. Scouting for complementary pieces? Nothing better complements an authentic asado feast than a classic Argentinean Malbec wine.  Argentina’s Malbec history is filled with epic mysteries and discoveries (once almost lost forever), and continues to evolve today. If you’d like to pair your fandom with an intensely dark red with aromas of cherries, strawberries, and plums, then you’ve found your team.  
  1. Simply wanting to watch actual top footballing talent? Argentina’s star player, Lionel Messi, is often considered the best player in the world and one of the greatest to ever play the game anywhere. Messi has played his entire club career with Barcelona, earning a record-tying five Ballon d’Or awards as the best player in the world to go with his numerous all-time records for goals in a number of leagues. No one in the history of Argentina has scored more goals for his country than Messi.
  1. While some North Americans feel that soccer has too much diving, nobody anywhere in the world would have anything negative to say about Argentina’s falls; Iguazu Falls that is. The name Iguazu comes from the Guarani word "y" meaning "water" and "ûasú meaning "big,” so you can imagine they are pretty impressive with steps from 115 to 130 feet high. Now that’s a dive.
  1. If you want the best, then Brazil is the one for you. And we’re not talking about Brazil’s historical football dominance; we’re talking beaches. No country on Earth possesses more beautiful beaches than Brazil. From the peopled beaches of Rio to quiet, secluded spots only Southern Explorations can take you to, Brazil is the all-time beach champion of the world.  
  1. If celebrating with some style and flair is important to you, Brazil has a world of rhythm awaiting you. Brazil is unrivaled when it comes to diversity of musical styles, from the world-famous samba, to frevo, embolada, and xote, all pulsing with percussion to help you celebrate victory, or even forget about defeat.
  1. Argentina brings precision on the barbecue, but Brazil presents the artistry of baked goods. Neighborhood padarias provide you with a delectable selection of sweets including incredible cakes, tarts, cookies, fruit-topped tortes, and delicious bolo to get you ready for any game day.
  1. Okay, okay. Brazilians certainly know their way around the flame too, famously pulling an array of sumptuous meats off the grill in the form of churrasco. This open-fire cooking of the gauchos peaks with picanha; an undeniable slice of sizzling sirloin. Watching a master show off their skills on a Brazilian grill is as much a beautiful game to observe as anything you’ll see on the pitch. And then you get to eat it. At many of the steakhouses throughout Brazil you’ll find it’s even served with massive carving knives to add yet another level of flair to the feast.
  1. Iguazu Falls! You might be asking; wasn’t that already on the Argentina list? It was, but Iguazu Falls is shared by Argentina and Brazil, with the falls divided into upper and lower Iguazu. The majority of the river system portion of the falls is in Brazil, while the steps of the falls are on the Argentinean side, coming together to create the single largest waterfall system in the world. Seeing both sides is the ideal experience, as Brazil provides the impressive head-on view of the falls while Argentina’s side offers much more hiking and unique views, including an impressive catwalk at the top of the Devil’s Throat!
Still finding the choice between Argentina and Brazil a challenge? Luckily you don’t have to choose! You can simply take inspiration from Iguazu Falls and grab the best of both on our Buenos Aires, Iguazu & Rio de Janeiro trip for nine days of embracing two of the world’s most sophisticated and culture-packed cities for yourself.