Friday, June 13, 2014

Day 13 - In Fortaleza Holland thrash Spain, Aussies edged by Chile

Sorry if this is getting boring, but yet another great day today.

Got up quite early and went down to the beach. Fortaleza has miles of beaches, a bit like Perth. The doom mongers slag it off as a boring city with no culture but I quite like it. The beach is spectacular and I walked along it's smooth, shiny wet surface for about 2km before stopping for a fruit juice.

View from the end of the pier

Brach by the fanfest

Shiny wet beach

Aussie gear today

looks like coral

See the guy bathing

Some swimmers had left their bag on the beach.

I decided I really needed to do a bit more shopping and get a collapsible bag to extend my baggage room so I eventually got a cab to take me to a decent shopping mall. It was there that I met an aussie couple who were very friendly. Embarrassingly, he pointed out that it was Holland v Spain tonight (Group B), not Portgual v Germany as I had somehow imagined. Anyway, got a new bag and a new non-football shirt before getting another cab to a bar/restaurant to watch the 1st game of the day - Mexico v Cameroon. It was a lovely meal, although there was far too much. Again I had fish and rice, very nice. Different type of fish and in a lovely cheesy, crabmeat sauce. Again I had a few beers. The place was full with Mexicans, who are always a happy bunch.

My view at one of the many beachside cafes

Match 2  Mexico v Cameroon

Rice and Fish in a cheesy crabmeat sauce - enough for a whole family

Merry Mexicans after their well-deserved 1-0 win

Costa Rican team bus

After the meal I tried to walk back to the flat bt, of course, got lost. I did have a map, but the writing is so small I might as well not have had one. So, again, the strategy was to head back to the beach and walk along till I found the FIFA fanfest. As I did, I bumped into three aussies (well one young aussie and two older Uruguayans who live in Wollongong) I was able to recommend them the place I ate at the other day and then suggested we meet up in the fanfest later for the Australia game.

Boteco Prato

Tico fans

I managed to get back to the flat to drop off the shopping before jogging back to the fanfest almost by the start of the game. What a game that was! Holland v Spain really ruffled a few feathers and the tone is already set for a pulsating World Cup.

Plenty room to stretch out and releax

Van Persie's stunning equaliser for Holland
A brilliant game. Holland could have scored eight!

Five - Spain surely no longer top dogs

After that I, again went back to the flat, but this time via the laundrette which I'd almost forgotten I about. They had my other set of clothes and if it didn't open tomorrow (Saturday) I'd be scuppered. Anyway, no problems there. Picked up my pristine looking clothes before darting back down to the fanfest just in time to join the aussies for "Advance Australia Fair".


Uruguyans mingling with Chileans and Auusies
The atmosphere, again, was great with fans from opposing teams singing and shaking hands and exchanging stories. All wonderful stuff. For every bad news story the media reports about football hooligans there are one thousand good ones like this that are too boring to report. I think Brazil's tourist board should sue some of the media for their always negative portrayal of Brazil. I have not had a bad moment yet and I have not heard anyone yet who has.

My first game tomorrow and England's opener.  It just gets better! Its great having two teams to support but I must say I'm feeling a bit ashamed at the almost none- existent support for England. So far I've met only two England fans compared to 20 or 30 Aussies. One said "they're all in Manaus" but it sounded a bit of a weak excuse to me. It was great being amongst a group from Australia and it was a great moment of joy when Cahill scored.

Ok, some football ramblings...

Mexico 1 Cameroon 0

This was indeed a tight affair but it was much a more exciting and attacking encounter than the score suggests. At half time, it was 0-0 with three goals disallowed, two for Mexico and both looked good. Cameroon contributed themselves to a good match but were too likely to do the dive and writhe thing. Exactly correct score for me!

Holland 5 Spain 1

This has to be the game of the tournament so far. It all started off very tense and with Holland looking like the spoilers to Spain's tap-tap passing game. Inesta looked superb as Spain took the lead - again through a penalty that looked ok at first sight but on the replay, clearly was yet another dive. So for much of the first half Spain seemed to be completely in control. But then a seemingly speculative long ball was met first time by Van Persie at the edge of the box with an incredible long looping header right into the top right corner so, just before half time, Holland equalised with a stunner.
No one could have predicted what was about to happen in the second half with Holland adding 4 more, totally brushing Spain aside and making their claim to be serious title hopefuls and my 2-1 prediction for this game lookin a bit ridiculous.

Chile 3 Australia 1

It couldn't have been a worst start for the aussies. By 13 minutes they were already 2-0 down. The first was due to shocking defending. I was seriously anticipating another 6-0. But in true aussie style, led largely by Tim Cahill, they responded magnificently and got one back jut before half time.
The second half was dominated by Australia, for large parts of the game but they just couldn't get a goal. One was disallowed for off side. But inevitably, Chile added a third. Hard on Australia. My prediction of 2-0 wasn't far off in the end.

So what a tournament so far!  4 games, 15 goals.

Tomorrow's games
Big day tomorrow with 4 games to watch, one after the other, from Group C and D.
Greece versus Columbia is a hard one to call but I'm going for Columbia, 1-0. Ivory Coast versus Japan, similarly, I think will be close, but I'm going for the African team here, again 1-0.
In Group D, Uruguay v Costa Rica will be my first game and I'm expecting a 1-0 win for Uruguay, although a draw would be ideal for England. Then, the last game is in Manaus, England v Italy, and I am sticking my neck out here and going for a 2-0 win to England.


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