Category Archives: Sao Paulo Day 1 – Match Day

screen w ball

Thursday | June 19, 2014 (Match Day)

As a follow-up to the post immediately following Spain’s elimination, it occurred to me how unfortunate it is that the last meaningful game in Group B, between Chile and Holland, won’t be a must-win game for either team, as it will only be to determine who gets Brazil and who gets either Mexico or Croatia in the Round of 16. That seems like plenty to play for, but it just isn’t the same as a knockout game, when the whole crowd is sitting on a knife-edge. We’ll be watching anyway.

Our early morning flight from Rio to São Paulo arrived on time at 6:30 AM.  It was much cooler (and cloudier) here than in either Salvador or Rio, but at least it wasn’t raining, although it was threatening.   We had organized a car transfer with the hotel, found our driver right away and headed to the Grand Hyatt, our home-away-from-home for the next two nights. Today is another match day for us (England vs. Uruguay), and fortunately we were able to check in right away and catch another 3 hours of sleep.

My room at the Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo
My room at the Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo
Carlie's adjoining room (and Carlie) at the Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo
Carlie (and her Paninis) in her adjoining room
The sitting room in my sweet (desk and TV not visible)
The separate sitting area in my room  (desk / TV not visible)

These are by far the finest accommodations we’ve enjoyed so far, and we took full advantage of the hotel restaurant to re-fuel with a very nice lunch after our “naps”.

Pre-match lunch - refreshed and ready to dig in
Pre-match lunch – starving & ready to dig in
The Grand Hyatt had the best (and crustiest) bread.  Yum!
The Grand Hyatt had the best (and crustiest) bread. Yum!

Security around Arena Corinthians had been beefed up due to protestor concerns, and every street within a 3 km radius of the arena was closed to traffic. São Paulo traffic is apparently the worst in Brazil anyway, so upon the advice of the hotel we cancelled the car service they had arranged for us, and we opted for public transportation. Getting to the arena from our hotel required a short ride on the commuter rail and two different metro lines, and we found both to be clean, safe and efficient.

Carlie on the platform at Morumbi Station
Carlie on the platform at Morumbi Station near our hotel
There was plenty of signage once we connected to the Metro
FIFA had plenty of signage once we connected to the Metro
The Sao Paulo subway system is very clean and modern
The Sao Paulo subway system is very clean and modern.  What you see isn’t a train, but doors that open once the train pulls up (no way to fall onto the tracks).

As you can see from the photo above, FIFA put some signage in the Metro stations, which was good because: (a) we don’t speak Portuguese, and (b) we couldn’t exactly “Follow the Dutch” this time. Instead we followed the signs, and of course the Brits, who for the most part were easily recognizable. Here are some our favorites below, including one suited up like Sir Galahad, although more of the Monty Python variety.

Seeing guys like this gave us some comfort that we were headed in the right direction.
Seeing guys like this gave us some comfort that we were headed in the right direction.
Jeff and Sir Galahad, outside Arena Corinthians
Jeff and Sir Galahad, outside Arena Corinthians

Like Spain the night before, England did not get any points from its first match against Italy, so it was basically a must-win situation in terms of having a reasonable chance of advancing out of the Group D. Getting into the arena was a breeze, with no waiting at the metal detectors and x-ray machines. They had more than enough of them, so many in fact that many of the people working were just standing around. We settled into our seats, which with the exception of Spain vs. Netherlands were our best so far. Field level, 25 rows up and just inside the 18.

Arena Corinthians - Pre-game (England vs. Uruguay)
Arena Corinthians – Pre-game (England vs. Uruguay).
Jeff & Carlie at Arena Corinthians (pre-game)
Jeff & Carlie at Arena Corinthians (pre-game)
Starting Lineups - England vs. Uruguay
Starting 11′s for England vs. Uruguay (Arena Corinthians).
Corner kick from our seats (no zoom required)
Corner kick from our lower level seats (no zoom required).

Since a few our favorite players are from England, like Gerrard, Rooney, Lampard (DNP) and Welbeck, we were rooting for them to stay alive in the tournament. Although we didn’t get the outcome we wanted, it was an exciting game and we saw some fantastic goals.

Exhausted from the early travel day and the match, we opted for room service and settled in to watch Japan and Greece battle to a 0 – 0 draw. This even after the Greeks had been reduced to 10 men by way of a 38th minute red card, and Japan missed countless opportunities to score.

Final Score: Uruguay 2 – England 1