Anyone but Argentina.
That’s the overwhelming sentiment among Brazilians as they prepare themselves for the unthinkable – an Argentine triumph in the World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday (5am Monday AEST).
Having endured the shock of seeing their fabled Selecao (the chosen) being reduced to o condenado (the condemned) by Germany, the humiliation would be absolute for Brazilians if their great rivals were to triumph at their sacred temple of football, the Maracana.
Like prisoners with a case of acute Stockholm Syndrome, Brazilian hearts are very much with Joachim Loew’s German team that shredded the myth of Brazilian supremacy so clinically in Belo Horizonte.
Make no mistake, for Argentina their opponent in the final is Germany, but their target is Brazil.
And they can smell blood.
For generations Brazilian football has carried itself with an aristocratic air, proclaiming Pele as it’s regent. They look down at the Argentine game as coarse and played with street-wise rat cunning.
Argentinians have always resented Brazil’s claim to footballing divinity.
That resentment has been present after every game they’ve won at this tournament, when the players have celebrated in the change rooms with a now infamous song which disparages Brazil and proclaims Maradona is better than Pele anyway.
Dethroning Brazil has been the key theme of this Argentinian campaign. Now they get their chance.
Standing in their way is a German team that is the product of over a decade of planning.
After losing the 2002 World Cup Final to Brazil, Germany set about reconstructing their game from the ground up.
It’s academy system was overhauled.
The Bundesliga, built on solid foundations, went to another level all together, delivering powerful teams stacked with a new generation of superb talent, most of which stayed at home to play in Germany.
Loew’s appointment as coach saw him take a young team to South Africa in 2010 and surprise everyone, not least Maradona’s Argentina, who they crushed 4-0 in a quarter-final in Cape Town.
The nucleus of that team has grown into the ruthless machine that squashed Brazil like a fly on a windscreen in the semi-final.
Thomas Mueller, Mesut Oezil, Philipp Lahm, Manuel Neuer, Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos among others were all part of that campaign and are even better players now.
You sense their time has come.
For Argentina, goals have been hard to come by. They’ve scored eight in the tournament and have traded on three 1-0 results to book a place in the final.
The likes of Javier Mascherano, Pablo Zabaleta and Martin Demichelis will be asked to frustrate and harass the Germans like the Algerians and Americans were able to do at times in this tournament.
Coach Alejandro Sabella will be sweating on the fitness of winger Angel Di Maria, who provides Lionel Messi with a collaborator as artist in residence.
And Messi is ready for his day of destiny, of that you can be certain.
The boy who looked burdened by expectation in South Africa is a man on a mission here as he looks to claim his rightful place among football’s immortals.
One more moment of magic just may just be enough.