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Last Tango in Argentina?

BUENOS AIRES – Argentina and economic crisis, it can sometimes seem, have been conjoined since the country’s birth, like Siamese twins. In fact, Argentina is the only developed country that has succeeded, in the period from World War II until today, in mismanaging its way out of the First World.

But, for all their failings, Argentina’s ruling elites have never been short on “attitude,” viewing their country as the equal of the world’s strongest, and thus never afraid to stand up to them all.

It is fighting words in Buenos Aires, for instance, to suggest that Argentine soccer is not the best in the world, though it has managed to win the World Cup only twice, behind Brazil (five), Italy (four), and Germany (three) – and matched by its tiny neighbor, Uruguay. While many experts, players, and fans rank Brazil’s Pelé as the best soccer player of all time, it is wise not to dispute the local insistence that either Maradona or Lionel Messi, two local boys, is better.

Recently, in a taxi in Hong Kong, of all places, a young tango dancer from Buenos Aires was visibly agitated at his host when Brazilian football was put ahead of his country’s game.