Friday, October 23, 2009

Brazil October/November 2009

Football is popular in Brazil.

Through Sao Paulo passport control and straightaway you see a TV showing football. It was Fulham v Roma.
And to continue the UK connection the Brazilian news even covered the postal strike.

In Sao Paulo the metro still needs to be 'joined-up' -they are opening over 30 new stations in the next few years. So going from east to west is somewhat tricky - I chose an airport bus and taxi to get to my hotel near the Morumbi shopping centre.

But replenished with a caipirinha you soon feel better.

Braganca Paulista.

Bragantino 4 Fortaleza 1 in Serie B.

The bus takes about an hour and a half to get to Braganca Paulista from Sao Paulo.

Its an average, safe place with a nice lake and not much else.
Not too many fans turned out on this Friday night - in fact 418 paid including a dozen from distant Fortaleza.
The latter are battling relegation and this result did their cause little good.

Bragantino scored through a free kick from a narrow angle. They then went on to pick Fortaleza off as they were forced to attack, it didnt help that the visitors had a man sent off in the second half.

Via bus to Sao Paulo and a flight to Rio.

Maracana - Rocket Man.

Vasco da Gama 2 Bahia 1

The Maracana was used for this game due to amount of interest in the game and the limited space at Vasco's regular home ground. Personally I would have preferred the original choice.

Vasco are on the verge of returning to the top division and this result virtually ensured their promotion.

Their many fans (50,000) produced terrific noise and atmosphere but inevitably large areas of the stadium were sparsely populated.

But the Maracana is still the Maracana - the sense of scale, the curve of the stands - the history.
It made this writer think of the 1950 World Cup final and what it would have been like to be among those 200,000.

Anyway on this day Vasco and Bahia probed for long periods without producing much action until a defensive error allowed Fagner to break through and shoot in.

It took until the second half before the much maligned and generally inactive, top scorer, Elton secured the win with a flick and a great left footed volley.
Bahia got one back soon after but they were well held and like Fortaleza remain near the bottom. Bahia brought a couple of hundred fans placed in the lower tier and they were very much drowned out by the Vasco songs.

This being Rio I chose a metro ride on the Sunday morning to the Copacabana area, joining many locals (and tourists) packing the beaches. Which were thronged with thongs.

I join the Botafogo ultras.

well briefly.

Botafogo 0 Flamengo 1

I chose the metro and minibus taxi to get close to the Engenhao stadium.

The feeling of a clasico is soon evident - the amount of police, threatening local fans checking for away fans going down the wrong roads. A helicoptor overhead.

Apparently a sellout it was nowhere near full (25,000) presumably becuase ticket sales were restricted due to security concerns.

The stadium, modern with large two tier covered sides and much smaller ends is divided 50:50.

Prior to the start two sets of Flamengo ultras, the rubra negro and the torcida joven have a brief skirmish - they don't get on - and a large gap is formed between them in the stands.

The game is settled by Adriano (ex-Inter), evading two defenders, getting space and using his left foot to do the rest. Otherwise, as seems typical for some Brazilian strikers, he does little but wait for a chance to score. Despite this he is joint top scorer in the Brasileiro.

Botafogo contributed to their own downfall after Lucio Flavio's shot from the penalty spot is easily saved.

Flamengo though challenging for the title (at the time they were 3 points behind Palmeiras at the top) didn't look like Championship winners.
Mainly because after getting in front they wasted time continually and tended to defend rather than go for more goals.

Anyway it worked this time.

I exited briskly and immediately got caught up with the Botafogo ultras - they trying to find some Flamengo fans to attack - me to find my bus. We both dodged the ramaging police horses incl. one that charged along the pavement.
I made the bus and metro back to central Rio without further incident.

To Bahia state and Salvador.

Where there is an impressive historic centre - full of decaying, imperial style churches and steep cobbled streets.

Its an awkward bus ride to get to the Barradao to watch Vitoria - but its definitely worth it for a big night game such as :-

Fireworks in Salvador.

Vitoria 0 Corinthians 1

Outside the small crowded, hilly, streets are numerous stalls with beer and, well, meat - all adding to a typical big match in South America.

As the teams come out - Fireworks - you're not kidding - all around the home stands - red flares everywhere.

Generating a tremendous atmosphere.

And Corinthians brought a large group of fans cramming most of the left hand end.
The stadium, in a dip in this hilly area is basically 3 sides and mostly open.

The opposite side contains the dressing rooms and, apart from some trees, not much else.

So 20,000 plus noisy fans made this a night to remember - all this and Ronaldo too.
Yes he hardly moved around but there was the odd touch - and he did manage to allow space for young talent de Federico to beat the offside trap and score the winner.

The taxi ride, back to Rio Vermelho, was much quicker than the outward journey.

Then a flight to Recife - further north and again a better than expected experience.

Sport going down.

Sport 1 Coritiba 1

Loads more red and black in evidence as Sport fans chanted their team on to avoid relegation.

We had only played 2/3 minutes when some of the floodlights failed, fortunately they did come back after a 20 minute delay.

After which Sport attacked relentlessly providing a very entertaining first half.
But after going behind Coritiba fought back to equalise.

This was another game with plenty of atmosphere and a stadium with an Argentinian feel - different sized stands/terrace and fans at both ends.
22,000 or so watched and produced plenty of noise (though with only a small group from Coritiba)
Somehow it was not to be for Sport and I felt for them in their frustration.

This time I could stroll back to my, elderly, central riverside hotel via fairly deserted streets - transformed from the earlier noise and bustle

And back in Sao Paulo.

From where I took a bus trip of some hour and half to a hot Campinas to see promotion contending Guarani.

Easy Portuguesa.

Guarnai 0 Portuguesa 3

Plenty of Guarani green around with fans parading through the city centre to get to the ground, many with 'champs' t shirts.
Their stadium is also greenish (coloured) with medium level open seats and a covered side with a large terrace/stand above.
Another decent crowd of over 10,000 were not encouraged as Portuguesa took over in the first half , slicing apart the home defence to score three times.

Guarani failed to get too close and ended well beaten - they'll almost certainly still go up but not as Champions.

Lastly in a suburb of Sao Paulo reached via an efficient bus system and taking around a hour and a half :-

Just like watching Brazil.

Santo Andre 2 Gremio 0

I'd chosen this game as an alternative to Palmeiras v Corinthians as this original choice had been moved to Presidente Prudente (hundreds of kms away at the other end of the state) for security and monetary reasons.

But I did see a very enjoyable free flowing game to end the trip.

Santo Andre, in Brazilian yellow, looked a lot better than a bottom four team against a largely inaffective Gremio.
The home side scored through striker Nunes and benefited from an headed own goal by Rafael Marques soon after the break. Gremio made it worse by having Roberson sent off.

The stadium is two-sided with one side largish, open, including a section for the couple of hundred away fans and the other, smaller, with a curving cover. Around 1,500 attended.

I returned by three buses and went on to enjoy a memorable meal in a Churrascaria.

As is usually the case South America did not disappoint.

more pics at

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