Day 86: The Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

I remember reading about this venue, The Maracanã Stadium in ‘World Soccer’ magazine when I was younger. It is one of the most iconic sports venues in the world, up alongside Madison Square Garden, Wembley and the Nou Camp. Upgrades were recently completed in time for this years World Cup and the Olympics in 2 years, it now holds 78,000 spectators. In 1950 it had the   199,854 fans watched the World Cup final between Brazil and Uruguay (which the latter won 2-1).

Getting there was easy – one change on the metro from Copacabana, and getting a ticket (90 Reals – £25) was simple with English speaking assistants at the ticket booths. After shooting Stadium exteriors in the late afternoon light I went for a couple of beers amongst the Botafogo fans, as the evening kick-off time approached.

As the teams entered the arena the atmosphere was electric, unlike anything I’ve heard at English grounds, so much noise. The away, Chilean side (Unión Española of Santiago) scored the only goal of the game, meaning they finished top of their group, and Botafogo 2nd. Both sides would go through to the next round of the Libertadores Cup (South American version of the Champions League).

Statue outside the Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Fans buying tickets outside the Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Fans buying tickets outside the Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Fans enjoying game between Botafogo (of Rio) and Unión Española (of Santiago, Chile), Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Fans enjoying game between Botafogo (of Rio) and Unión Española (of Santiago, Chile), Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Fans enjoying game between Botafogo (of Rio) and Unión Española (of Santiago, Chile), Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Action from cup match between Botafogo (of Rio, Brazil) and Unión Española (of Santiago, Chile), Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Fans enjoying game between Botafogo (of Rio) and Unión Española (of Santiago, Chile), Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Santiago – Universidad de Chile vs Unión Española

Day 54 – Santa Laura Estadio – Universidad Chile 3 – 3 Unión Español, Santiago, Chile

Jumping out of the taxi near the stadium I assumed it would be a simple matter of finding the ticket office and making the purchase. I was wrong – they don’t sell tickets at the game, you have to buy them online beforehand. However like all entertainment events around the world there will always be touts and people with spare tickets willing to sell. And so for 8000 Chilean pesos (approx £9) I got a ticket from one of the Unión fans just before kick off.

And what a great game to see, three apiece, with a red card and three penalties! The home side, Universidad de Chile, down to ten men after a dubious decision in the second half, came back from 3-2 to score a late equaliser, sending the passionate fans around me into raptures.

Fans watching a match between Universidad de Chile and Unión Española on 01-03-2014 (result 3-3), Estadio Santa Laura-Universidad SEK, Santiago, Chile

Fans watching a match between Universidad de Chile and Unión Española on 01-03-2014 (result 3-3), Estadio Santa Laura-Universidad SEK, Santiago, Chile

Fans watching a match between Universidad de Chile and Unión Española on 01-03-2014 (result 3-3), Estadio Santa Laura-Universidad SEK, Santiago, Chile

Fans watching a match between Universidad de Chile and Unión Española on 01-03-2014 (result 3-3), Estadio Santa Laura-Universidad SEK, Santiago, Chile

Fans watching a match between Universidad de Chile and Unión Española on 01-03-2014 (result 3-3), Estadio Santa Laura-Universidad SEK, Santiago, Chile

Fans watching a match between Universidad de Chile and Unión Española on 01-03-2014 (result 3-3), Estadio Santa Laura-Universidad SEK, Santiago, Chile

Fans watching a match between Universidad de Chile and Unión Española on 01-03-2014 (result 3-3), Estadio Santa Laura-Universidad SEK, Santiago, Chile