World Cup Opens Amid Acceptable Chaos and anti-Rousseff Chants
So the burger stall may have run out of burgers several hours before kick off. So the staff may not have been able to understand any of just three menu items, all of which were clearly posted in English. So the stadium elevators didn't work until yesterday.
And of course, the people may have not been as enthusiastic about the World Cup as they would have been, had it not been a massive drain on resources badly needed for schools and hospitals.
But for all that, FIFA got its end desire and 60,000 plus people packed into the Arena de Sao Paolo and watched the opening game of the World Cup. By 16.30, all the internal political problems of this vast nation seemed forgotten. Seemed is a word that came back to haunt this article.
As the teams were read out, all the surrealism of the past seemed bygone and it became more prominent that there was indeed a football match with three points in Group A to be won.
Watching on nervously were fans in Mexico and Cameroon.
If the opener is in your group, you watch it in an entirely different way to the rest of the world. We are watching the opening game of the World Cup. They are watching the chances of your side qualify rise and dip with each goal.
The anthems struck up with Croatia first. Then Brazil's Hino Nacional Brasileiro played, which the crowd continued singing after its short version stopped. The Croat players politely stood through that and waited for the Brazil players to break from the line up first.
Finally, Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura blew the whistle and the 2014 World Cup began.
Mateo Kovacic took the honor of the Cup's first shot although it did not bestow the honor of the Cup's first save on Julio Cesar. That honour went to his opposite number Stipe Pletikosa who had to politely scoop up a David Luiz header.
Croatia continued to look dangerous and speedy, with Ivica Olic heading narrowly wide just outside Cesar's right post. Croatia were beginning to pile up small fouls; their third coming inside ten minutes although they did not look like being overrun at this point.
The threat they posed however was not heeded by the hosts and it was Marcelo who mistakenly diverted a touch from Jelavic into his own goal following a magnificent left wing run by Olic. That seemed to rock the crowd who thought they knew the script of today's play. Mateo Kovacic had a chance to shoot but prevaricated when a second could have really unsettled Brazil.
That took another ten minutes when a cross from the left traveled across the entire Brazil penalty area.
Pletikosa was finally delivered a spectacular save and it seemed Brazil were finally picking up their groove. With that momentum increased their intensity.
Oscar ran a long way to retrieve a ball at a Croat goal kick. The crowd whistled suspecting time wasting and that whistling was elongated when Ivan Persic stayed down after receiving a nasty elbow from Paulinho. Replays showed a very suspicious positioning and use of the elbow by the unpunished Brazilian.
Neymar wasn't so lucky when he repeated the elbow on Modric and rightfully received the tournament's first yellow card, one which Brazil's other players unwisely disputed. Cesar plucked a header out of the air but the unease among the crowd needed silenced quickly.
Seconds later, it was.
Neymar drilled in a daisy cutter but it was positioned as dangerously as possible and squeezed into the Croatian net off the right hand post. Fireworks were being lit across the city. Croatian keeper Pletikosa would probably want to do it all over again. Had he dived a split second sooner or started a few inches to the right, he would have diverted it out of danger.
To their credit, the visitors did not crumble or panic and saw the match through to half time.
The second half began and it began with Brazilian wizardry. Vrsaljko tripped Oscar out on Croatia's left to end a decent move and things were looking ominous.
Felipe Scolari from the touch line tried to persuade a Croatian into the book to no avail which is never a good sign that the coach is confident of victory. The free kicks however kept coming for Brazil but they could make no further impact in the pre-substitution stage of the game.
Marcelo Brozovic replaced the tiring Kovacic in what seemed a very well timed substitution by Niko Jovac. And a Mexican wave started. Well damn. That one belonged in the history books. Our intrepid Brazilian reporter (see above) joined in.
Paulinho left for Hernanes. With one change made each, the scenes had been set for the last stanza of the 'Opening Act' of the 2014 World Cup.
Vedran Corluka earned the second yellow for fouling Neymar in a very dangerous area. Dani Alves fired it over. Bernard entered. Hulk left. However the narrative was about to change decisively when Brazil were awarded a penalty after Fred fell over when Lovren was behind him. It was an atrocious decision. Pletikosa got close to Neymar's penalty but the ball was in. And so was the fix.
Brazil's political problems did not remain outside the stadium despite the lead. Around the eighty minute mark, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was shown on the giant screens at the stadium. This was the catalyst for a very audible anti-government chant aimed at her. "Ei, Dilma, vai tomar no culo"- meaning Dilma go
It didn't sound like anyone chanting would be voting for her at the next election. Maybe she could ask Mr Nishimura for help.
It should be pointed out that the ground staff debated for a good while before deciding to clarify whom the chant was aimed at. And then when they told me, they did so with some enthusiasm; almost glee.
The Croats had the ball in the net but a foul on Cesar had been called against Olic, a foul of the sort keepers usually get. Cesar earned his oats with a good diving save from a long range effort seconds later. The Croats were menacing though running out of time.
Scolari inserted Ramires for Neymar to protect that lead but Cesar had to be alert one more time. That proved to be the catalyst to Brazil's final victory.
Oscar ran at the Croat defence and kept running util he poked the ball past Lovren who may have been afraid to tackle him, and finally past Pletikosa.
In stoppage time, the anti-Rousseff chant began again and was still ringing out when the final whistle went. So after all, Brazil's problems were not locked out of the stadium and the World Cup did not exist in a vacuum.
If this is the mood of the people when Brazil win, one can only imagine what it will be like when or if they are eliminated.