World Cup 2014 Diary: Portuguese Fans Pack It In After Pepe’s Red Card

pepeEditor’s Note: NESN.com’s Nate Waters is in Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and will file occasional dispatches about his experiences there. In his first blog, Nate shares what it was like being in Salvador for Germany’s surprising rout of Portugal.

We left three hours before kickoff of Germany-Portugal and arrived at Arena Fonte Nova six minutes into the game. We all thought we’d find our seats in plenty of time, watch the players warm up and scream with the German fans the national anthem we had looked up on our phones the previous night. But when people walking on the highway make more progress than you do in a car, you know the supporters will do anything to see their team. Our taxi driver just parked the car in the middle of the street and yelled at us in Portuguese to run down the hill to the arena.

The Portuguese national anthem had finished and the game started as we received a less-than-thorough pat-down by stadium security. Although the tickets clearly stated we weren’t allowed to bring food into the stadium, the bag of Oreos in my sister’s purse made it through just fine, and we sprinted up seven flights of stairs to our seats.

Watching the game, it was obvious Germany would win. They play with a sense of conviction, a mental discipline where one or two goals is never enough. While most teams would sit back after having a 2-0 lead, the Germans continued to attack by pushing the ball out wide to players like Mesut Özil, who can place the ball wherever he likes inside the 18-yard box.

It helped when Pepe, one of Portugal’s stars, decided to head-butt Thomas Muller and earned a red card. At that point, the Portuguese fans behind us packed up their flag, stopped their singing and went straight to the concession stand to grab a beer. The German fans loved it, though, especially because of their disdain for Pepe and Ronaldo after Real Madrid, the Spanish team for which they both play, humiliated Bayern Munich in the Champions League semifinal just two months earlier in Germany.

Attending a World Cup game is one of the most surreal experiences any sports fan could have. The field is a golf green, primed to be shredded with spikes-up tackles and 30-yard blasts. It’s 11 players attempting to play with one mind and a manager limited to a spray-painted box but ready to scream at every call regardless of who committed the foul.

Ten goals already have been scored in Arena Fonte Nova, between the Spain-Netherlands blowout and the Germans’ easy victory. When France takes on Switzerland in the same stadium Friday, it’s unlikely one team will score more than four goals, but Arena Fonte Nova certainly has marked itself as one of the premier places to watch the World Cup.

Photo via Witters Sport-USA TODAY Sports

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