Our team arrived at the Maracanã about half an hour before game time and though the weather wasn't the best, the Flamengo fans were still out in full force. The roads leading up to the famous stadium were packed with supporters dancing, singing, and..um..drinking. A lot.We exited the bus and took an escalator up to the top floor. Our team was fortunate enough to be provided a suite in which to watch the game, and we walked around the upper level of the stadium to get to our box.
The Maracanã is right in the middle of Rio, and even though it was a foggy night in the Brazilian metropolis, we could still see the city lights and the surrounding mountains (In the picture above you can see the Maracanãzinho, where we'll be playing our games). There's no denying that Brazil is a great place to watch a soccer game, and as kickoff approached the atmosphere became more and more enjoyable. Watching one of the most famous club teams in the world at twilight in Rio? There aren't many things more exciting for a soccer fan.
The noise of the crowd was steadily increasing and as the game drew closer, the fans were getting ready. Big flags of all their heroes - Zico, Junior, Dida, and more - were unfurled and readied for the walkout of the teams.First the lineups, where the Flamengo fans took timeout from their singing to roundly boo the starting eleven of the visitors, Sport Club do Recife. Sport, as they are known, were garbed in their white away kits while the home side was outfitted in its traditional red and black hoops. When Flamengo took the field pandemonium ensued.
At one time, the Maracanã was famously large, holding close to 200,000 people. Renovations and restrictions over the years have cut that number in half and in tonight's game, the stadium was hardly a third filled. But, nonetheless, it was loud. We were lucky enough to be sitting right behind the most rabid section of Flamengo fans and the noise was constant.As the energy built to kickoff, flares were let, fans were jumping up and down, and when the center referee finally put a start to the game, there was no chance that we were going to hear the whistle.
Part 2 coming up soon...