RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazilians might have thought that their World Cup nightmare couldn't possibly get any worse — and then bitter rivals Argentina reached the final in their own backyard.
Still agonising over their traumatic 7-1 semi-final defeat to Germany just 24 hours earlier, Brazilians will now have to watch Argentina and their superstar Lionel Messi battle for the trophy in Rio de Janeiro's legendary Maracana Stadium on Monday.
Many Brazilians cheered for the Netherlands to beat their South American neighbours in yesterday's semi-final. But Argentina saw off the dogged Dutch 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out after a 0-0 draw in 120 minutes of attritional stalemate.
"Seeing Argentina in the final in our home hurts, especially after the Selecao's worst ever defeat," said Marcio Carneiro da Silva, 36, a mailman drowning his sorrows with a beer on the terrace of a Rio de Janeiro restaurant.
His friend Cesar Augusto, 37, already picked a new team for the final.
"Now I'm German," he said.
Brazilians noted the final will be in the same stadium where Brazil lost the decisive game of the 1950 tournament to Uruguay, a defeat that traumatised the country.
"The nightmare continues," wrote O Dia newspaper in its online edition.
"In addition to not being able to dream about a sixth title, Brazilians will have to live with the real possibility of one of its main rivals triumphing in the ultimate football temple," it said.
Argentines were on cloud nine, singing and chanting at the stadium in Sao Paulo and in bars across Brazil.
"Reaching the final in Brazil is the best thing that could happen to us, although I would have preferred to beat them in the final," said Miguel Martin, 32, a truck driver wearing a hat in Argentina's colours who watched the game at a public screening in Sao Paulo.
Brazil and Argentina have battled for football supremacy in South America for decades.