Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Soccernomics: News and Notes from Brazil

New Maracanã: From my seats (brag). Notice though, how intimate it feels. Super-nice.
Absent any real content, I give you some random musings on soccer from Brasil.

The New York Times covers the rather difficult path to the World Cup hosts Brasil are having.  The Confederations Cup will go off as planned but in only about half of the stadia to be used for the world cup.  The rest are in different stages of construction with the worst laggard probably the Itaquerão in São Paulo.  

I got to test Brasil's preparedness first hand at the grand re-opening of the fabled Maracanã stadium in Rio as Brasil hosted England in a friendly.  Getting tickets was not easy.  First the web site failed miserably and when I eventually was able to buy tickets I had to repeat the process twice as you were limited to only two.  That part took about two and a half hours.  Oh and I could only do it because I am a registered foreigner - you had to have a Brasilian ID.  One good thing here in Brasil is that the law mandates that kids be allowed to buy tickets to games at half price, so I saved a lot of money that way.  The second bad thing is that you still had to pick up tickets at least a day before the match at a local Rio ticket window.  I chose Gávea and Flamengo's ticket office and wound up waiting for more than an hour just to collect the tickets I had already bought.  Ah Brasil!:

Outside CR Flamengo: this is about 1/3 of the line.
The game day experience, though, was absolutely awesome.  The Stadium had hordes of people to help out, it was beautiful, modern and the sight lines are fantastic. Getting in and out was a snap and they didn't mind if we had food (you listening Merritt?).  The field was immaculate and the soccer was good and bad but in the end four goals was good value for money.  Even the subway, while straining under the sheer weight of all of the fans leaving at once, did admirably.  Kudos and a very good sign for the World Cup. 

Pelé thinks fans should not boo their team (yes, it happened v. England, but not that much and they were not playing that well so...)

To give a contrast to the shiny new Maracanã here is a panorama of the Estadio Pacaembu in São Paulo which was built in 1940 and looks it.  Still, it is pretty nice if totally basic.  We went to watch a desultory 0-0 draw between my adopted São Paulo team, Corinthians, and the lowly Portuguesa team.  Corinthians did not play well:  

Not much fancy abut this place but hot dogs are $2.50, so that is nice...
I read a little article on the struggle and success of Brad Evans at the right back position for the US national team and was struck by this Jurgen Klinsmann quote on playing outside back:  “It is one of the most demanding roles in the modern game” 

Why did it strike me?  Well, one, I recently converted to the position and I feel like it took me two years to master it.  But more so because I distinctly remember former Timbers coach, frustrated by the play of one of the many we put there, saying that exact opposite: that it is the easiest position on the field.  It was a stupid comment then, and is stupid now. But this is not to bash Spencer but to say that perhaps his view of the game needs some updating? 

Finally two interesting notes about watching futebol live in Brasil: Now that big screens are a part of new stadiums, they need to figure out a replay policy.  Right now they don't show any to avoid problems with fans and refs.  I think MLS does this well, avoiding controversial replays in the stadium.  But c'mon, show the goals!?!.  They also don´t typically show the game clock - I guess for the same reason, but it is annoying.  

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