Argentina's fans will bring the noise in Paris - and Los Pumas have slowly turned up the volume on their World Cup campaign

Argentina's fans are embracing every step of Los Pumas' journey in France
©Photo by Adam Pretty - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images

Argentina's fans had the Stade Velodrome rocking last Saturday and expect them to descend on Paris this weekend as Los Pumas prepare for their latest 'final.'

Of course, their meeting with New Zealand on Friday night at the Stade de France is a semi-final but since falling to a disappointing defeat to England in their opening game of the World Cup, Michael Cheika's side have treated each upcoming fixture as if it were do or die.

"Maybe a lot of people say we played badly in the first game but we were against England, one of the most important teams in rugby," Argentina's Matias Moroni said.

"I think we only beat them four or five times and people were expecting more from us. We trust ourselves a lot but you have to say England played really well. After that, we proposed to play each game as a final, because if we lost, we were going back home. We’ve won the last four finals."

Last weekend in Marseille proved to be the same in terms of their mentality and approach. Having been second best against Wales, Argentina produced a reaction after half-time and they went through the gears to book their place in the last four.

The odds for Los Pumas to overcome three-time champions New Zealand are stacked against them but their recent record might be a source of encouragement, given they beat the All Blacks for the first time in the 2020 Rugby Championship and did the same in Christchurch in 2022.

Added to this, running South Africa close in Johannesburg and beating Australia in Sydney prior to the World Cup are examples of where Argentina's heart and quality were on display and they will need that - and more - if they are to deny New Zealand a fifth World Cup final appearance. 

"We trust in [our] system, how we play and how we train. We trust in our players. We are a family. All Argentinians, we know each other and that is what makes us stronger. That’s how we want to keep playing: win each minute, each battle, each action. Now, hopefully, we have a good next game.

"We have a lot to lose. We want to play on the 28th and we are in a position to play the most important game for Argentina. We’ve played twice [in semi-finals, 2007 and 2015] and we have never won it, so we are in position to play the most important game for Argentinian rugby.

Argentina have made only one change for Friday's semi-final with Gonzalo Bertranou starting in place of Tomás Cubelli at scrum-half.

“It was difficult [the start of the tournament] but we always kept faith and we know the work we have been doing; internally we knew we were ready, we needed to work on some details," Argentina boss Cheika said. "This is how we face these difficult moments. We can face problems at any point but our confidence in our players and staff [made us believe we’d get better]."

The Los Pumas faithful will bring the noise in Paris on Friday and it certainly won't be low-key, but internally, Argentina will keep turning up the dial at their own pace as they look to pull off the greatest result in their history.

 "We want to inspire not just by our results but by our ambition, by our ability to get back up and overcome obstacles," Cheika said.

"To inspire is not about results, it's not just one player who played well, it's about our behaviour in general, our ability to be ready to come back from difficult times and seizing our opportunities.

"There are not a lot of opportunities in life - us playing in a semi-final is even rarer and we want to have no regrets."

Argentina: Mallia; Boffelli, Cinti, Chocobares, M Carreras; S Carreras, Bertranou; Gallo, Montoya (capt), Gomez Kodela, Petti, Lavanini, Gonzalez, Kremer, Isa.

Replacements: Creevy, Sclavi, Bello, Alemanno, Bruni, Bazan Velez, Sanchez, Moroni.

New Zealand: B Barrett; Jordan, Ioane, J Barrett, Telea; Mo'unga, Smith; De Groot, Taylor, Lomax, Whitelock, S Barrett, Frizell, Cane (capt), Savea.

Replacements: Taukei'aho, Williams, Newell, Retallick, Papalii, Christie, McKenzie, Lienert-Brown.