England Vs Uruguay
This post is being written over a week after England’s World Cup dream was ended by an average Uruguay team + possibly the best player in the world right now. A lot can happen in a week; Luis Suarez is facing a 4 month ban from football after sinking his teeth into Italy’s Giorgio Chillini, England completed their World Cup campain with a mundane dead-rubber against Costa Rica and we are sat on a beautiful beach in Guarapari. Assuming that anyone reading this blog will have watched the match, there it little point in rehashing the thousands of match reports and editorial inquests into our pi$$ poor defending, so with that in mind, here is an overview of our match day experience.
Our first task on the agenda was to get an extra ticket. Joycey’s last minute decision to divert his flight from Australia to Brazil was awesome news but it did mean he hadn’t applied for tickets via Englandfans (England supporters club). Getting tickets in Manaus hadn’t been a problem; the 3000km round trip from São Paolo had put a lot of England fans off attending the first game and the lack of travelling support for Italy also made spares easier to come by. São Paolo, however, was definitely not a buyers market; the increased amount of England fans (many of whom had flown out without tickets) coupled with South American opposition meant all of the 68,000 tickets seemed to be accounted for – we didn’t see a single person selling at the stadium Metro. A good proportion of tickets for every World Cup game had been apportioned for Brazilians only and it seemed they were all keen to attend the matches rather than cash-in, even for up to R$2000 (around £500) which is what some England fans were offering.
We needed an alternative option and it was at this point that Joyce took a gamble, flashing his ticket from the previous Italy match was enough to get him through the outer perimeter security. After 25mins of ambling up to the stadium the next checkpoint was the airport security scanners. No problem getting Joyce through here as no ticket is required, although the stewards did confiscate our World Cup (presumably because it could be used as a weapon) and our t-shirts from the fans friendly because they were not official FIFA merchandise – what a nonsense. The final barrier to entry is the ticket scan and it actually proved a litter easier than we thought; Lee and I scanned our tickets to gain entry to the stadium concourse and passed one ticket with accompanying ID back through the fence. Thankfully, once through onto the stadium concourse the stewards haven’t beeen checking tickets to get to your actual seat which meant I was able to get to my seat (without a ticket) and Lee joined me despite his ticket being for the upper tier. Outside the stadium, Joyce scanned his ticket which was obviously rejected but with 20mins of persistance in the ticketing office a ‘replacement’ ticket was issued and Joyce was in, only missing the first five minutes of the game.
After the refreshing attacking football that we saw against Italy in Manaus, the first half against Uruguay was a return to the more conservative football that got us through qualifing. To win World Cup games you need your best players to perform on the biggest stage. The game was a story of two strikers; Suarez who linked up well with Cavani and was clinical with both his chances and Rooney, for all his endevour, was only able to convert one chance out of three.
England did improve their game once behind and after the wild celebrations when we equalised the belief was that we would go on to win the tie. However, courtsey of some Sunday League-esque defending Uruguay were able to take the lead and use every single trick in the book to ensure they held out for the victory. Time wasting needs to be addressed in football and from our viewpoint the refaree had several opportunities to deal with Uruguay pushing gamesmanship to the limit. Three times he warned the keeper to speed up his goal kicks but not once did his yellow card come out for that, or for what looked to be a horror tackle on Ross Barkley.
The grapes turned even more sour as we left the stadium to collect our confiscated items. The t-shirts had entirely disappeared as had our Copa – not even a simple raffle ticket system had been put in place and so the collection point had turned into a bit of a free-for-all. Thankfully three other Replica World Cup trophies had been confiscated and after close inspection we made our way back to the Metro with a replacement in hand. It took over and hour to get onto the Metro, with the military police ensuring everyone had a valid ticket – what ever happened to free match day travel?! Maybe the protests against FIFA and the World Cup had persuaded the governmenf not to fork out for a free travel. Either way, it meant that we spent about 45mins queuing along with jubilant Uruguay fans. Of course these minor complaints go completely unoticed when your team wins but when you loose and are out of the World Cup every little hurts. As we queued for our Metro tickets amongst thousands of Uruguay fans in full voice, (no idea what they were singing but it sounded amazing) I realised that we have twice travelled half way round the world only to see England knocked out of the World Cup after just two matches.
Still, could be worse, two weeks left in Brazil and a trip to Rio, Belo Horizonte and beyond still to come. The World Cup is not just about England, we would be here whether England qualified or not…
A full set of match pictures can be found here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjYWNw4Y