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May 27, 2017

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Argentina's fans roar during World Cup viewing at local bar

Two of the world's best soccer teams, Argentina and Belgium, faced off in the World Cup quarterfinal on July 6. Both teams had a 3-0 winning record in their respective group contests.

While Argentina boasts possibly the world's best player, Lionel Messi, the Belgium team also has many talented players. The contest between the two was a much anticipated game, as reflected in the strong turnout at the Taipei sports bar Brass Monkey last weekend.

Soccer fans could be seen gathered at the bar on Fuxing North Road well before the game started at midnight local time. Some even booked their seats in the bar several days in advance.

The bar has a great deal of experience in preparing for this type of world event. In addition to several TV sets hanging near the roof, two big screens with rows of seat in front of them were set up, allowing fans to see the game more clearly. With air conditioning providing a welcome retreat from the hot outdoor temperature and bottles of Heineken on hand in a theater-like environment, it makes sense that people come to sports bars instead of watching the games at home.

Brass Monkey's manager, Max Murphy, stressed that it is all about "creating the atmosphere." Staff use a microphone to announce the lineup of each team before the game starts. People wear the shirts of their beloved teams, yelling and cheering. It makes all the difference.

People got excited that night. When Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain scored the first goal five minutes into the game, thundering cheers resonated inside the bar. It appeared that the majority of those in attendance were cheering for the South American team.

The replay on the big screen showed how the ball went into the net from three different angles.

A slight rivalry among fans began to surface a little while later, as a group of people standing in the middle began to cheer "Belgium! Belgium! Belgium!" Although outnumbered in the bar, they were not deterred.

  When asked why he supported Belgium, Will Barnard from England said it went back to 1986, when Argentina faced off against England in the World Cup quarterfinal. Argentina's then soccer star Diego Maradona scored a goal with the so-called "hand of God." To Barnard, the "goal" should not have counted, and for this reason, he is not supporting Argentina.

In regard to why he was rooting for Belgium, Barnard said that unlike big soccer nations such as Brazil and Germany, Belgium is a relatively small nation, has no of controversies surrounding it and is "too small to hate," he said half jokingly.

Wearing Argentina's blue-and-white striped jersey, 29-year-old Alex Chang from Canada said he likes Argentina mainly because of its star player Messi, who is able to create striking opportunities on his own instead of relying on fellow players' assistance, according to Chang. He has already booked his seat at the bar, to watch Argentina and Netherland face off in the semifinal on July 9.

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