The lads with the Fray Bentos flags at La Plata for the semi are on the boat from Buenos Aires to Uruguay on Wednesday morning and not surprisingly in very good spirits. Most of them will be making their way back to Argentina this weekend for the final at the River Plate stadium.

Fray Bentos was a famous name when I grew up. I can’t imagine anybody consuming their corned beef and other products in the UK in the 70s could ever have imagined that they were slaughtering nearly one million cows per year in that one factory on the banks of the River Plate. The factory closed in 1979 and all that is left is a museum and a new paper pulp factory close by.

Uruguay is even colder and more expensive than Argentina, on the evidence of Colonia at least. Supermarket prices are frightening.  Two euro for a snickers anybody?

I was told the Uruguayans were less moody than their Argentine cousins but the boys in the pizza restaurant where I watch Paraguay put out Venezuela put me in mind of Messrs. Suarez and Jose Batista and his team mates in that notorious 1986 World Cup squad that picked up countless yellow and red cards. The restaurant is packed. In Buenos Aires they’ve been pretending the tournament has finished since last week. When you’ve got a population of 13 million you can more easily hide the bleedingly obvious. The Uruguayans are mad for it.

Every 20 minutes the sound dies and a series of ads come on the screen at top volume for Cololo who, regardless of the ads, seem to have the monopoly here on tinned food anyway. While some geezer shouts rather over enthusiastically about green peas, Venezuela hit the crossbar (again).

Colonia is a little time trap slice of Portugal that helped this nation become a nation after the town was founded in 1680. It is an attractive and pleasant upmarket place, with some centuries-old architecture, crumbling churches and cobbled streets leading to the river, but underwhelming compared to the Portuguese bastions of Goa and Essaouira.  It does though make a welcome change from the big city life of Argentina.

PS  I am pizzad off with pizza

(c) Justin Walley & morethanagame.info