Editor’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 second blog, Nate shares what it was like being in Rio de Janeiro for Chile’s surprising rout of Spain.
Technically this game was played in a neutral location, however, anyone in that stadium would have told you it was a home match for Chile. With 70,000 fans in the stands, you might have seen a few seats where people were not standing up screaming at the top of their lungs — those were the Spain supporters.
Hours before the team even arrived at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, the Chileans were dancing in the streets, posing with La Policia and searching for anyone sporting a Spain jersey so they could surround them with flags and chant, “Chee Chee Chee! Lay Lay Lay! Vive Chile!”
With Chile neighboring Brazil, I learned that a majority of the supporters are caravanning through the host country to watch La Roja. Their next stop will be São Paulo when Chile takes on the Netherlands to see who will ultimately win Group B.
Outside the stadium, armed guards were checking tickets and turning away pedestrians as far as two blocks away. Before the warm-ups even started, a stampede of Chilean fans sprinted through one of the tunnels that led onto the field. I was only one section away thinking they were attempting to streak the field or just draw the cameras for a moment; however, they turned toward the stands and scaled the concrete wall to find seats (pictured right)! The guards whipped out their batons and it was an ugly scene for a few minutes as they took on the impossible job of deciding which people wearing red Chile jerseys actually had tickets.
Spain was the first team to begin warming up, and right from the start I thought that they had the game in the bag. Watching players like David Silva, Andres Iniesta, Xavi, and the other big names we all know move the ball with such pace and precision, I couldn’t believe that the Chilean midfield would even be able to touch the ball at all. Then, as I am turned around taking a photo for a couple behind me, the stadium erupts into cheer as La Roja jogs out onto the pitch. Chile’s 12th man was fierce, and most likely around 65,000 people shouting in unison.
As the first half progressed and Spain could not manage to put together more than five passes, I started to think that Chile could pull it out. Every Spain touch was preceded by none other than a record-setting decibel level of relentless whistling from the Chileans to show their disapproval. And when Chile would string together a few passes, the crowd would sing “Olé” in unison for each successive pass, almost helping the players break down the defense, find the open man and diminish Spain’s mentality.
While most likely every broadcaster, writer and analyst picked Spain to stroll through the group, it turns out that in a breezy Brazilian stadium, it was a good night to be Chilean.