Friday, November 11, 2011

Brazil October/November 2011

Seven games in Brazil including the Recife derby, a great game in Bahia and a Serie D match in Juiz de Fora.

Hot & steamy Recife.

Nautico 2 Sport Recife 0 17,164

A typically breathless local derby played in the Aflitos stadium.

The match not only satisfied local pride for the ecstatic home fans, it also helped to move Nautico towards Serie A and dented the hopes of Sport doing the same.

Two first half goals, the second an excellent solo run and shot, did it assisted by a red card for a Sport defender in the second half.
The game was always frenetic despite the hot weather.

Another feature was some long range shooting some by the dangerous Sport no.10.

The compact stadium is surrounded by apartment blocks from which numbers of fans watched the game.
Most of the home ultras were at the right hand end with around 800 or so away fans in a section to the left.

According to the local paper there were over 900 police keeping order - which went off OK as far as I could tell bar the chanting and fireworks.
So the red and whites beat the red and blacks - N A U T I C O.

I took a taxi back to my hotel in Boa Viagem and enjoyed some beer and steak near the beach.

Cool and rainy Curitiba.

Coritiba 3 America (MG) 1 10,962

My third visit to a stadium in Curitiba and each of the three is worth seeing.

Atletico´s being a rareish example of a European style ground in Brazil and a location for 2014 World Cup games.
Parana´s home, near the old railway station, was a location for 1950 World Cup games.
And the Couto Periera with its mix of three tiers and a smaller side suitably decked out in dark green is another worth visiting.

The match started well enough for bottom of the table America, backed by a handful of fans, as the speedy Kempes shot home left footed.
But soon after Coritiba equalised and they went ahead with an excellent move finished by Davi and involving the useful Marcos Aurelio.

It was a particularly torrid evening for the away defenders as they tried to control the tricky home winger Rafinha who had scored the first and was a constant threat.
He effectively caused the sending off of defender Gilson later in the 2nd half.

A header from a corner sealed a comfortable win for the home side and left America further adrift as the Serie A lanterna.

The match was played in cool rainy conditions in quite a contrast to Recife.

Via Florianopolis to Criciuma.


Criciuma 1 Portuguesa 1 9,535

Portuguesa would have a little longer before being crowned Serie B champions after being held to a draw by Criciuma.
They brought 50 or so fans from Sao Paulo who made the longish journey south (not quite comparable with the 30,000+ Corinthians fans expected to make a similar length of trip to watch their team play America (MG) in Uberlandia the next weekend)

The visitors started slowly giving possession to the home side straight from the kick-off.
Soon after Criciuma scored from a corner and their speedy forwards went hard at the league leaders.

It took Portuguesa about 20 minutes to begin to take control going very close near the end of the first period.
About half way through the second 45 minutes they equalised, sub.Cleiton poking home a left wing cross.

Then we had a pulsating finish as the Criciuma Tigers poured forward in the last few minutes playing with maybe five strikers and a ´rush goalie´.

They had missed a number of chances to win and despite the late scrambles just failed to get the decider.
The atmosphere was also excellent, reminiscent of Argentina, in a European style, rectangular, covered stadium.

I walked back to my hotel and enjoyed a bottle of vinho tinto whilst watching some Copa Sudamericana on TV.


Vitoria 5 Salgueiro 1 26,216

From Coritiba back to Florianopolis then a flight, via Sao Paulo, to Salvador.

Where I revisited the Barradao to see Vitoria move up into the Serie B top four.

They never had much trouble with about to be relegated Salgueiro who only had a near post header just before half time as consolation.

The stadium is certainly one of the harder places to get to particularly on a busy Friday night.

I started out allowing plenty of time but the combination of the first taxi driver taking me in the wrong direction and the second being stuck in horrendous traffic pretty much the whole way made it a frustrating evening.
As you near the stadium the roads become increasingly potholed, narrower and jammed with cars.

I finally made to the stadium by about 8.35 (for a 8.30 kick-off) but with hundreds outside I didn´t make inside until about ten minutes later, by then Vitoria were two up.

However once there the stadium, being a natural amphitheatre, together with their excellent ultras makes it a superb atmosphere.

I did see Vitoria score their third and two more in the second half against a well beaten visiting side.
The crowd, a season record for Vitoria, were allowed into the away section as Salgueiro (a very small club) only seemed to have a few directors as supporters.

At the end I managed to work my way out the ground and after a struggle got a taxi back to Rio Vermelho were some beer and chicken and chips helped me to relax.


Bahia 4 Sao Paulo 3 31,230

In this one Bahia, the other main team in Salvador, came back from 3-1 down for a famous victory against one of the big teams in the Brazilian league.

And how the fans enjoyed the experience.

Sao Paulo scored two picture book goals, first Wellington lobs it over a defender and volleys in for 1-0. Then the excellent Lucas slams in a 25 yarder.

But in the second half, with sub Junior making a difference, a spirited Bahia team came back to deny the big names.
Coach Joel Santana whose other substitutions were criticised by the fans was completely vindicated.
The result may have been different without some great saves by the home goalie particularly from a Luis Fabiano effort.

Bahia scored from left wing moves to get them back to 3-3 and an own goal by an Sao Paulo defender deflecting in another cross with ten minutes left took most of the crowd into delirium.

This time my travels went well albeit on a quieter Saturday in Salvador as I arrrived about two hours before the 7pm kick off.
So I was able to sample the atmosphere outside and when seated amongst the socios watched the fans arrive.
The ground is three sided, horseshoe shaped, with views to the Pitaucu wilderness beyond the right hand goal (with its elevated scoreboard)

The rest of the ground is mostly open terracing with the well supported away contingent in part of the side opposite.
Though the atmosphere was dampened by the visitors scoring first it had become ecstatic by the end.

I negotiated a quick exit and got a taxi back to the hotel for some red wine and an early night.

As I had a 4am start to get my flight to Rio.


Tupi (MG) 3 Oeste (SP) 1 7,416

This was a Serie D semi-final 2nd leg with Tupi 3-0 up from the first encounter.

And the home side went further in front on a very bumpy pitch after about 14 minutes as they cut through the Oeste defence with ease.
A similar strike folllowed on the half hour and that was pretty much it.

A third involving a nice move and cross from the right - put home by the no.9 had the outcome decided by half time.
A very limited and demoralised Oeste just had a header from a corner as consolation.

I´d arrived early enough to sample some local wine in a pleasant restaurant close to the stadium overlooking the valley below.
The ground, in a wooded area, is substantial and again 3-sided with massive curved terracing.

So plenty of room for the best crowd of the year with no away fans visible.

Many of the home fans were listening to Serie A games on their radios - highlighted by the cheers as the Flamengo goals went in.
The city clearly has many Rio club fans judging by the number of Flamengo/Fluminense and Vasco shirts being worn and there is also a Fla fan shop.

So a lower key game especially given the score but it was another large Brazilian stadium to admire.

Back in the centre of Juiz de Fora I had a couple of beers, a salad and a churro.
The locals mingled amongst the street vendors.

Juiz de Fora is a 3 hour bus ride from Rio through some stunning scenery with superb views of the wooded mountains and valleys.
The central area of the city feels friendly and vibrant (though not so much on a Sunday evening)

As always outside of the centre there are the ever present favelas dotted around the valley and you see the odd person sleeping on the street.

During a free day I visited the small but well laid out railway museum connected to the impressive old station noting that they had more passenger trains through here in the 19th century than in the 21st (none so far)


Duque de Caxias (RJ) 1 Vila Nova (GO) 1 72

This match was played in Volta Redonda - a city that probably doesn’t see many tourists having a massive industrial complex right in the centre of town.

And it doesn’t attract many spectators for lodgers Duque de Caxias’ games either.

The medium sized ground, with Volta Redondo picked out in black along the side, is fairly modern with a covered main stand and partial cover opposite.

The visitors did bring a small group of fans and they cheered as their team went ahead early in the second half via a far post header.
With the home side getting a man sent off it looked like an away win but Duque fought back and eventually equalised from a penalty with about fifteen minutes left.
They had by far the best player on show - the speedy right wing back (no.2)

Despite having Ben Hur and John Lennon in their lineup Vila Nova had to settle for a draw and relegation to Serie C.
Duque de Caxias had long since been confirmed as demoted.

So a surreal ending to my trip

I took the bus, a two hour ride again through impressive scenery, to Rio and eventually the flight home to London.

Overall I enjoyed some exciting games in mostly great atmospheres played out in some interesting stadiums.
As long as you can cope with the transport infrastructure, the crowded cities and few people speaking English compensated by the hot weather (I guess) Brazil delivers.

more pictures at

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