How will the Brazilian fans turn out for the World Cup matches amid protests and hot weather, and how will they and the players react to the national anthem are among a few questions Gary Meenaghan addresses on the eve of kick off.
Five things unexpected in Brazil for the World Cup
The country is the size of a continent and the southern part of it is in the middle of a wet winter. Sao Paulo, where today’s match between Brazil and Croatia will take place, is often known as “Terra da Garoa”, the Land of Drizzle. Under an unfinished roof, fans are more likely to be looking for cover from the rain than they are from a baking sun.
Today is Dia dos Namorados, Brazil’s Valentine’s Day. Although hotels and restaurants tried to convince local couples to celebrate the day yesterday, we can safely assume that any man or woman in a relationship and with more than one ticket will be taking their significant other. Either that or they will no longer be in a relationship come kick-off.
Only one verse of the Brazilian national anthem
With protests across the country last summer, the reciting of the Brazilian national anthem took on a special meaning during the Confederations Cup. Only one verse of the anthem is supposed to be played, but such was the patriotism that the second verse was sung a cappella by tens of thousands of spectators. It often visibly buoyed the home team, who scored early in three of their five games.
Applause for the president
Dilma Rouseff, the Brazilian president, remains popular across Brazil and is leading the polls ahead of elections later this year. A socialist and former guerrilla, she represents the Workers Party. With tickets for today’s curtain-raiser proving too expensive for much of the population, spectators inside the ground are expected to be predominantly wealthy Brazilians. That is likely to mean jeers for the president, who has already indicated she will not address the crowd.
Neymar to shun the limelight
Even for Neymar, the Brazilian poster boy, he will never have been in the limelight as much as today. Footballers have a tendency to play up to the occasion – think peroxide-blonde Romania in 1998 or David Beckham’s mohawk in 2002. Neymar, whose image is comically over-marketed in his home country, is likely to showcase something, be it a new hairstyle, a new tattoo or a special goal celebration.
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