Once again, I scheduled myself in Manaus to watch the World Cup, this time for the two final matches. After their embarrassing defeat in the semi-final, the hosts looked to claim some honour in the third place playoff against the Netherlands, who only got knocked out by penalties to Argentina. To cause an almighty upset in neighbouring Brazil, the Argentines would have to overcome mighty Germany, so it looked to be a final to truly relish. I enjoyed three fun nights with my new American friends and lazed around my hostel waiting for my boat’s departure to the Colombian border where I would continue my South American adventure.
3rd Place Playoff: Brazil v Netherlands
When we arrived back at the agency’s office in Manaus the Netherlands were already beating the hosts 2-0. I joined the American guys in Praça São Sebastião once more to watch the second half. The Dutch secured third place with a final goal to complete Brazil’s World Cup collapse. Immediately after leaving the square, the guys spotted a photo of me on the big screen wearing my Dutch shirt at the previous match – so I missed my own 15 minutes of fame! We met again later that night for dinner and drinks, bumping into the two American girls, Lara and Vivian, to complete the jungle reunion – only 6 hours later. We concluded the night sharing falsified facts about Manaus’ main square, making ridiculous claims about chiming church bells, floor tiles and, best of all, lighting to symbolize the tree’s mood!
World Cup Final: Germany v Argentina
That Sunday was the culmination of a month of football: from the excitement and high-scoring matches of the group stage to the tension and penalty shoot-outs of the knockout stage. Game 64 was to be battled out between Argentina and Germany, a repeat of the 1986 and 1990 finals – the last time each team won the competition respectively.
After a lazy morning I met the Americans to make our way to the FIFA fan fest, comparing facts, stats and predictions along the way. My personal favourite was the ‘Rule of 24’ whereby the only 2 teams to have won the World Cup three times, Brazil and Italy, both won their fourth 24 years after their third (Brazil 1970 -> 1994, Italy 1982 -> 2006). Argentina only had two wins to date but Germany’s third triumph came 24 years ago in 1990.
Having spent three weeks of their month in Manaus (a great way to secure tickets early to a variety of games) the guys had met some local Brazilian ladies who joined us for the big final. So we all found prime seats inside the fan-fest at Ponta Negra, albeit exposed to the elements (both sun and rain) and got settled in. The brothers, Jonah and Tobias, were half-German and my European loyalty along with the Arsenal continents in Germany’s squad all combined to win my support!
With Zane’s companionship, we were supplied with beers by the ice-box vendors initially, but for the second time at a fan-fest, the beer stopped circulating the crowd from half-time. It wasn’t until people retreated to shelter from the rain and the game entered extra-time that we were able to quench our thirsts!
The match itself did not disappoint, despite 112 goalless minutes once again. Germany dominated possession while Argentina carved out the best chances with Messi’s flashes of brilliance too far apart to change the course of events. We celebrated the offside decision for Higuain’s disallowed goal even more raucously than the loyal South Americans had cheered initially. We watched Mario Götze score the German’s winner perched on our wet steps and continued our celebrations through to the final whistle.
Not interested in watching Germany lifting football’s most prestigious trophy, the entertainment kicked in immediately. First we spotted ourselves on the big screen (waving mindlessly as everybody inevitably does) and then we danced the night away with the Brazilians to top off a truly unforgettable World Cup.
World Cup Hangover
With the World Cup finally over I had two days to kill before saying farewell to Brazil and boarding a six-day boat along the Amazon River to the Colombian border. I had the pleasure of the Americans’ company for one last dinner followed by drinks with Tobias, since he flew back a day later. I took care of laundry and a little shopping, did a little sight-seeing then parked myself in front of a computer: researching onward travel options, backing up photos and attempting to catch up with my blog – the constant battle while travelling!