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Argentina fans hold a replica trophy as they celebrate winning the World Cup in Buenos Aires.

REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

Hard Numbers: Argentines celebrate, Ghana defaults, EU sets gas price cap, Ramaphosa stays, Nazi typist convicted

2 million: That's how many people showed up in Buenos Aires' iconic Obelisk square to celebrate Argentina's epic victory in the soccer World Cup in Qatar. Greetings from world leaders are still pouring in — even Brazil's President-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva set aside their bitter regional rivalry to congratulate La Albiceleste for its third trophy.

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Argentina's Leo Messi lifts the World Cup trophy alongside teammates in Qatar.

REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

What We’re Watching: Argentine soccer ecstasy, Chinese COVID cover-up, Brits on strike

World Cup victory brings Argentina much-needed good vibes

In arguably the best final in the tournament's history, Argentina won its third soccer World Cup in Qatar on Sunday, beating France on penalties after drawing 3-3. The nail-biter saw Les Bleus come back twice from behind against La Albiceleste, with GOAT Leo Messi finally lifting the trophy as captain. In a country where soccer is religion, Argentine fans erupted in joy — eager to have something to celebrate and take their minds off the deep economic crisis that has pushed their economy to the brink of collapse, with an annual inflation rate of 100% and poverty rate above 40%. For once, except for a brief controversy involving former President Mauricio Macri, Argentine politicians stopped bickering and united behind the national team. Still, and unlike French President Emmanuel Macron, who went nuts cheering in the stands, Argentina's President Alberto Fernández stayed away so as not to jinx it for Messi & Co. and watched from home instead. But don’t count on a World Cup bump that'll give Fernández a shot at reelection in 2023: His approval rating is now below 20%, and once the party is over, Argentines will return to complaining about the economy.

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Argentina fan celebrates after the World Cup match against Mexico.

REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

World Cup heats up Argentina’s presidential race

When Argentina faces Poland in their do-or-die last group stage match on Wednesday, one thing will be missing at the stadium in Qatar: Argentine politicians.

In the soccer-crazy South American nation, políticos rarely watch the Albiceleste, in person to avoid getting blamed for a loss. Former President Mauricio Macri didn’t get the memo, as he attended — in his new FIFA gig — Argentina’s shocking loss to Saudi Arabia last week. Almost on cue, fans responded by launching an online petition for Macri and his bad juju to stay as far away as possible from GOAT Leo Messi and his crew.

But the brouhaha over Macri is part of a bigger story: The former president has hinted he might want to get his old job back in next year’s election.

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