Sunday, February 27, 2011

São Paulo FC – CA Bragantino (19-02-2011)

After A. picked me up at PAEC, we drove for almost an hour to the other part of Sao Paulo, the rich area of Morumbi. It took us quite some time to park the car; moreover, you have to pay street kids a parking fee, even though you park on public streets. When A. asked a policeman in the street whether parking there was safe, he said: “Safe not, but you can try.” With this endorsement, we decided to pay the fee (so that the car wouldn’t be vandalized) and walked to the stadium.

The Estádio Cícero Pompeu de Toledo, better know as the Estádio do Morumbi, was opened in 1960 and is Sao Paulo’s biggest stadium with a capacity of 67.428. It was supposed to be one of the stadiums for Brazil’s World Cup in 2016, but the FIFA just announced that it doesn’t meet its requirements.

We arrived at the stadium 15 minutes before kick-off (at 8PM). Unfortunately, it was all very unorganized. Roughly 5 minutes before kick-off we had bought our tickets at R$30 (ca. €13.20), but it would take almost 30 minutes more to get into the stadium. Insanely, the stadium had opened only twee entries for those with a cheap ticket, like us. As we got in, São Paulo Futebol Clube (SAFC) was already 1-0 up and was just awarded a penalty.

After the disappointing miss, we try to find a spot in the rather busy section of the huge stadium. While the people around us are quite mixed ethnically, at least from a European perspective, there are a remarkable number of young white kids at the stand. After all, SAFC is the team of the middle and upper classes of Sao Paulo. Most people around us wear one of the many different (and mostly beautiful) jerseys of SAFC.

Officially, there were a mere 13.830 people in the massive stadium. In Brazil, they also announce the revenue of each game: R$350.346,13 (ca. €150.000). I couldn’t find any fans of Clube Atlético Bragantino, a small club from a town 85 km (55 miles) north of Sao Paolo. It is not uncommon that games in the Campeonato Paulista, Sao Paulo’s First Division, as many fans save their money for the play-offs in the Campeonato Brasileiro (Brazilian First Division).

It was a pretty nice evening, roughly 24C (75F), although humid, but the atmosphere is lacking. The people around us are fully into the game, but hardly ever sing or clap. This seems to be left to the Torcida Independente, a section of a couple of thousand fans who are separated and sing and drum all game.

As expected, SAFC totally dominates the game. Sao Paulo has been one of the strongest teams in Brazil, and even Latin America, in the past five years. Still, it takes until the 40th minute for them to score again, through a counter attack no less, but with a very cool finish: 2-0. Half time!

The second half started as the first one had left off, with SAFC dominating, playing a great short passing game, creating various half chances, but few real chances. The visitors could muster only one soft header. In the 67th minute a classic attack over the left flank is ended with a low pass in and an easy finish: 3-0, terrible defense! Most of the excitement is generated when the SAFC goalkeeper takes a free kick (despite missing the penalty earlier).

In the 80th minute a long attack of the hosts leads to a shot from 16 meter that goes through the hands of the terrible Bragantino goalie: 4-0. Now people around us finally start to sing and clap, particularly when SAFC players do tricks (like back heels, irrespective of the outcome). The last 15 minutes are played without midfields on both sides, which leads to some chances. The best kick of the game comes surprisingly from the guests, in the 91st minute, when a free kick bounces off the cross. Final score: 4-0.

São Paulo Futebol Clube is one of the best teams in Brazil and Latin America, and sports some of the nicest jerseys in football, but is not a particularly exciting club to visit. The stadium is far too big and soulless, and the fans fairly uninspiring. Not the type of experience I had expected of a Brazilian football game.

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