Well, Brazil have played 2 games now and I think it’s fair to say that most people have been pretty underwhelmed. So far there have been no dominant displays and no goleadas – just a feeling that something isn’t quite clicking when the team get out on the field.
I have a few Mexican friends living here in Rio, and they had all decided to watch the game at Casa Alto Vidigal, a hostel/bar at the very top of Vidigal favela. The journey would normally take a little over an hour, so I gave myself a little over 2 hours and set off on my journey. Within minutes I received messages from other friends who were also trying to get to Vidigal – everyone was telling me that the traffic was the worst they’d ever seen in Rio.
As soon as I got off the metro in Ipanema (the mid-way point in my journey), I saw it myself: traffic crawling at a snail’s pace; dozens of people on every street corner, trying in vain to flag down taxis. After trying to pick up some kind of transport for 20 minutes, I decided I’d have to set off on foot. I walked for half an hour before eventually catching a heavily overcrowded bus and ended up arriving in Vidigal with 10 minutes of the first half remaining (it turns out I was in good company – Pelé himself missed the first half of the game in São Paulo due to bad traffic).
When I finally reached Casa Alto Vidigal, I found the crowd around the big screen were divided – Mexicans on the right, Brazilians on the left. I diplomatically sat in the middle, but slightly to the left. The Mexican contingent were in fine voice and you could tell they fancied their chances of creating massive upset.
I’m sure most of you either watched the game or heard what happened, so I won’t go into a blow-by-blow account, but what I will say is that this was a very frustrating night for the Brazilians. Brazil made plenty of chances and Mexico’s goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa, made some amazing saves. I think this video clip summarises the night quite well:
“…counter-attack!!!…. go! …yes…. yes… YES! …GO!!!! GO!!!! YES! YES! YES! …………………………..oh.
Rather like a disappointing version of that scene from When Harry Met Sally.
Ah well, I think most people agreed that a draw was a fair result – sure Mexico’s keeper made some great saves, but Mexico had some good chances too. It was also interesting to observe the Brazilian reaction to the result. Mrs Eat Rio was very down in the dumps about the situation but received little sympathy from me – most England supporters would view a win and a draw as being a dream start to the competition!
Who knows? Sometimes teams start slowly and then improve as the tournament progresses. I really hope that Brazil raise their game because on current evidence they’d have little chance against Holland or Germany.
As for England, I’ll be crossing my fingers that they don’t follow Spain’s example of saying adiós to the dream of World Cup glory in the shortest possible time…