Bosnia vs. Nigeria
You arrive at the stadium in your Duplo rental car. It’s not the sexiest car in the world, but it does the job of transporting you and your 5 other friends to the stadium. If it gets you from A to B, what else matters, you always say.
After you park your car, you realize that the car hasn’t done it’s job completely. A lock on the door isn’t working. Have a friend return the car to the airport, while you and the others scope out the bars near the stadium.
Easy to get along
In the bar you are at, you count at least 7 different nationalities. Your group accounts for 3 of them. Bosnians, Nigerians and Germans all want a picture with you. Your not sure why it is so easy for everyone to get along at the World Cup. It’s different than club soccer, where the pride in a team can turn violent much quicker. You think about it long and hard.
Why is the atmosphere at a World Cup game so inviting? What is it about the event that makes people buy you beers, give you jerseys from their home country and want to learn your nation’s chants? And why is that guy dressed up like a nun?
You figure you have drank too much beer, so the answers are not going to come to you now. You instead, learn a Bosnian chant, forget it five minutes later, down your last beer and walk on towards the stadium.
You approach the security line. It snakes back and forth through 10 rows of metal railings, each row the length of a basketball court. Groan loudly and start to complain.
Don’t worry, its moving fast – 20 minutes and a couple of high fives from some fellow American fans later, you reach the security checkpoint.
Your girlfriend brought a sign: “Stop spying on me” with an arrow to the side of it. It’s a reference to the CIA listening to phone calls of Brazilians. For some reason, that sign isn’t allowed in. You guess FIFA is apolitical. Laugh about how ridiculous that sounds.
Watching the Game
You walk to your seats. You look at your tickets. Then you look at your seats. You look back at your tickets. Could these be your category three seats? They should be up in the rafters with the pigeons. You decide better not ask anyone and sit down.
You realize that many people have disregarded their tickets and are sitting anywhere they damn well please. Your other friends are scattered around the stadium. Cell phone calls ensue. Everyone ends up sitting with you. The game isn’t great, but the seats and friends make up for it.
Colombia vs. Japan
The Costumes of the cup
Ah the Colombians. Back again after looking impressive in their first two games. You remember the gusto with which the fans cheered on their team. Enter the Japanese. Not to be outdone, the fans adorn their own impressive costumes.
Some costumes make little sense to you. You get why this fan is wearing a traditional japanesse hat (you assume that’s what a traditional Japenese hat is since you have no idea what a traditional japenese hat looks like), but why the hell is he wearing a swan tutu?
This is your fourth game. In all games, fans have come out with costumes with a patriotic spin. You have seen Americans dressed as generals in civil war garb, Argentinians dressed as the pope, Colombians dressed as Shakira and Nigerians dressed as warriors, but the meaning of a swan tutu escapes your limited cultural and historical knowledge.
And what the hell is this guy wearing?
Colombia demolishes Japan 4 to 1. James (pronounced Hames) Rodriguez is particularly impressive. Think that whoever plays the Colombians in the next round will have their hands full.
After the game, walk to a bar 100 meters from the stadium. The sound of samba radiates from the small bar. Eat, drink and be merry. The Colombians are; a small band of Colombian musicians ask to take the stage. The samba band from Brazil obliges.
Portugal vs. Ghana
The next day you hop on a plane to Brasilia. The USA, your team, has a chance to make it out of the group of death. They play Germany and you have tickets to the other game in the group: Portugal vs. Ghana. These last games will decide who will go through to the next round.
It gets complicated, but if the US loses to Germany, then the result of the Portugal vs. Ghana game becomes very important. Both Ghana and Portugal have a chance to go through if they win by a big enough margin.
A Lackluster Game
While walking into the stadium, a group of Ghana fans tell you that two of their starters quit the team last night. There was some issue with payment. You hate to find happiness in the misfortune of another team, but that’s good news for the US. If the US loses by one to Germany, Ghana need only win by 2 goals to make it into the second round (Portugal needs to win by 5).
The game is slow. Both teams seem to be playing without much fire. This is also good news for you. A tie would send the US through without question.
Portugal ends up winning by one goal. It’s not enough. The USA is through to the next round. It’s a weird feeling in the stadium. Although Portugal won the game, nobody is cheering. That is, except for the US fans. The World Cup is strange like that. You can go to a game between two teams, and the winner is a third that isn’t even playing.
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Next up: France vs. Nigeria, USA vs. Belgium and Costa Rica vs. Holland