Heeey Maracana

Trip Start Sep 02, 2008
Trip End Dec 14, 2008

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Rio de Janeiro,
Monday, October 20, 2008

"It's just like watching Brazil" I sang to myself as the world cup qualifier against Colombia kicked off - despite a crowd of nearly 60,000 the number of empty seats made it reminiscent of watching the football at the Westpac or Selhurst Park. Funnily enough the Maracana is exactly like a older relation of the the Cake Tin in Wellington..holding a reputed 110,000 at capacity (compared with 34,000) the ground is only 2 stories high but the oval means it looks much like the MCG rather than a European ground.

The natives were restless and ready to get on the backs of players who most resent for the money they earn in Europe...I had to remind myself that I was really watching a Brazil side that contained 3 Manchester City players!!! Sure enough Robinho was rubbish, falling over himself trying to stepovers and hilariously he got booed off when feigning injury. The only highlight was Kaka, but again the away team seemed the brightest and by the end of the game the home fans were ole-ing the Colombians and were busy abusing their own players and particularly the manager - nice to see the Brazilians have a similar approach to supporting their national team as England.

True to form I'd forgotten by obligatory bet on a 0-0 draw and predictably there were no goals, as a result the atmosphere which was fantastic before kick-off never really took off. I got my chance though to go back to the ground for a Rio derby, Flamengo v. Vasco de Gama and it seems the real atmosphere is saved for the club games.
Flamengo (the Man U of Brazilian football) were playing Vasco (probably the Spurs given their spot at the bottom of the league) who I was supporting thanks to their Palace like sash. Having remembered to put a bet on 0-0 this time I was guaranteed a goal, which duly arrived just before half-time. The fans went mental...much flag waving and flares being set-off and given this was the only goal of the game the best of the atmosphere was saved for the end where we couldn't see anything but smoke from the flares...

lots of singing aswell...

So 2 games, 1 goal - not too much different from watching the Phoenix..and I'm not sure the standard of football is much better than the A-League..but the atmosphere was definitely a winner!
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