Sunday in Salvador was another lovely day.
Selma, rarely, provides a washing machine as part of the deal so I was able to wash my clothes myself for the first time. Drying them proved to be more of a problem. I hung most of it out to dry on a scary frame attached to the outside window, some, I just placed in my room. That's one good thing about nylon football shirts: They dry very quickly.
After Selma made Karen (from the West Midlands but living in Derbyshire) and I a nice breakfast (wasn't expecting that) we chatted a bit before going our separate ways. Karen's friend from England, Rich, who arrived to pick her up, just had to be a Derby fan, didn't he? And a very nice chap he is too. They went off to spend the day with some other friends, and Selma, very kindly, allowed me to be part of her morning - a reunion with a long-lost friend from Sweden called Erik. So, Selma drove me to their agreed rendezvous location where Erik and his son got in the car.
The plan was to drive to a station and catch a scenic train along the coast but it soon transpired that the station was closed on Sunday because of the World Cup. Not to worry, Selma drove us to a few locations, which were all very nice but the best place was when we went back to the flat where Erik used to live 12 years ago. A really beautiful spot on the westward facing shore of Salvador. You could see it was quite an emotional moment for Erik as the landlady he remembered from before was still there. He reminisced about how he used to go jogging along the pristine-looking beach and the gorgeous sunsets that he used to get every evening from his 2nd floor flat. Then we went along to a fantastic sorvetaria where we all pigged out on various sorbets. Vigo, Erik's 10 year old son, was particularly pleased to have a break from walking around and looking at stuff - boring!
|Buy a ribbon to the to the church and get three wishes|
|View back to Barra|
|Coconut juice was nice|
|Where Erik used to live|
|The view from the appartment|
|Vigo, Erik and Selma|
Anyway, for me it wasn't boring, so with about 20 minutes before the first game of the day, I got Selma to drop me off at a famous escalator that took me up from the water side into Pelourinho, the trendy, touristy, but very cute part of Salvador. I wandered around until I found a bar in which to watch the first half of Belgium v Russia - a very tense and close affair. I then walked to a rather over-priced restaurant with a rather low quality screen (and a Norwegian sat in the way) to watch the second half. On the positives, I met a very nice couple from California who were both originally from England. Bob was a Manchester United fan and his wife, Diane, a West Ham fan from the East End, although they both now spoke with slight American accents. They were, like me, having the holiday of their lives.
After that, I decided to try to see the fantastic stadium here in Salvador so I followed the signs tracing the "fan walk". One English fan told me it took you through a favela but I don't think he knows what a favela is. The streets were really pretty and there was, again, no fear apart from the fear of getting soaked as another rain storm started to pour down. I got to the stadium but of course the security wouldn't let me go any further.
Then the task was to find another bar to watch Algeria v South Korea. This wasn't a match I was, frankly, looking forward to, but yet again, expectations were well exceeded. The bar I went into had just one seat free so I asked the guy who was sat there if he minded if I joined him. "Sure" he said.
His friend joined him a moment later and so I had the match sat chatting to these two guys from Houston, Texas, who were both ethnically Nigerian. Another great decision. We talked about the politics of Ukraine, the principle of self-determination and independence as well as the use of a 4th official with video technology to review dodgy decisions. Such is the World Cup. You talk about big philosophical things and nitty gritty detail about the game.
There were another bunch of aussies on the next table and I said hello to them briefly before moving on to the next bar for the Portugal v USA game.
After about half an hour of aimless wanderings, I eventually stumbled on what must have ben the best bar to watch the game in the square. So I stepped in the packed bar, looking for a spare seat where I might stick my nose in and try and join in. Amazingly, there was a guy in a Forest shirt. I crept up to him, tapped him on the shoulder, and bent down to his ear "U - REDS!!" I said, to his immediate joy. "Forest fan?" and that was it. The rest of the evening was spent with Chris from Bingham discussing all about Billy Davies, the injuries at Forest, whether Stuart Pearce will do a great job, the England performance and the totty in Salvador.
Even more amazing, who should be his travel buddy from London, but a guy from Perth! Steven was also an interesting guy who build web sites fro Apple in London. His dad was from England and he's doing the "aussies in England" thing for a few years.
Many beers were consumed as we sniggered at the US fans' chants. (Another one... "You aint gonna fuck with the USA.") Bless 'em. They mean well and you have to applaud their enthusiasm. I was really quite surprised that Portugal seemed to have no support whatsoever in the crowd. The taxi driver later told me that most Brazilians think they are stuck up.
Of course when I got back I found the clothes I'd hung outside to dry had not dried at all, but got soaked, so I had to rearrange them in my room.
|Russia v Belgium in Rustic Bar|
|Bar where I watched Belgium v Russia. Beautiful, rustic atmosphere inside but the only beer available was Skol|
|Sao Joao festivities|
|Picture postcard streets in Pelourinho|
|Delicious Seafood & coconut broth - but enough for two|
|Mao Dupla -nice food but a bit pricy|
|Brazil Bunting Everywhere|
|The closest I got to watching a match live in Salvador|
|Fan Walk in the rain|
|Algeria v South Korea was another great match|
|Nigerian Americans from Houston. Ugo (on the right) Forgot the guy's name on the left.|
|Forest fan, Chris, from Bingham and his mate, Steven, from Perth!|
I believe that we will win. (Didn't do me any good!)
|Current goal distribution curve - starting to look more 'Normal'|
So, yet another great day in Brazil!
Belgium 1 Russia 0
Belgium just about deserved to win this closely fought and quite bruising contest. Head clashes seem to be the theme of this game with Russians twice kopping the worst of two head clashes. Vincent Kompany was immense as Belgium eventually edged it with a very late winner. Belgium are definitely though already and a win against South Korea should see them top the group to play 2nd in Group G which, one suspects will be the USA in the knock out round.
Algeria 4 South Korea 2
Wow, what a game. This one had "dull" written all over the expectations but, credit to Algeria, they attacked with real venom and took an early 3-0 lead with ten chances to zero at one point in the first half. Game over? Not quite. South Korea stormed back in the second half with renewed passion and quickly pulled one back, before Algeria re-extended their lead to a 3 goal margin again before South Korea scored another. Alas, time ran out, denying everyone an even bigger goal fest. This win sets up a fascinating next game v Russia, who must win to qualify. A draw would do Algeria to get second spot and so the unenviable task of (probably) facing Germany in the knock out round.
USA 2 Portugal 2
If England have been a disappointment, imagine how football fans on the Iberian peninsula must feel. Spain are already out and Portugal are almost gone too. Portugal must beat Ghana and Germany must beat USA and both must be by a margin big enough to overturn the current difference of 5 goals between them. So, say Portugal beat Ghana 2-0 and Germany beat USA 3-0 then, I think, that would get Portugal through. USA pipped Ghana at the death in their first game and the same happened to them here tonight with Portugal getting an equaliser with practically the last kick. Unfortunately for twinkle toes and his men, it was probably too little, too late.
So, that's the end of round two and technically, half way through the tournament, in terms of games played (32 out of 64). It all accelerates from here. Starting tomorrow, each group closes with two simultaneous games, to avoid an Argentinian-1978-style cheating episode.
All game table at the end of round 2...
In Group A, it's really a simple battle for second place, assuming Brazil beat Cameroon. Mexico v Croatia will decide that. Mexico only need a draw to join Brazil in the round of 16 but Croatia are capable of winning and taking their place instead. If Brazil fail to win, they would be overtaken in 1st spot by either Croatia or Mexico, assuming one of them wins.
Group B's qualifiers are already known - Holland and Chile, but they'll be battling for top spot to avoid Brazil (again assuming they'll finish top of Group A) when they face each other. Holland have the better goal difference, so a draw would be sufficient for them. But if Chile won, they'd get top spot and set up a fascinating match of Holland v Brazil in the round of 16 game.
Very exciting! I have just checked my flight time and I won't be able to watch Brazil here in the fanfest after all. I'll have to leave well before the game so I can check in for my flight to Belo Horizonte and still have time to watch the footy before getting on the plane.