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World Cup matchday experience

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I have never watched an international game live before.

So to make my international debut at the Maracana during the World Cup was as good an introduction as I could have hoped for.

I was fortunate enough to watch Colombia take on World Cup bad boys Uruguay in the second round of the tournament, the knockout phase.

colombia2Colombia won 2-0 with mercurial talent James Rodriguez (although they were far from a one man team) delivering the knockout blow with a magnificent individual first goal and rounding off a flowing team move for the second.

So how did this experience differ from all the various league games I have seen in England.

The last live game I watched was Crystal Palace (an amazing team in south London for those of you who don’t know) take on Liverpool at Selhurst Park in a thrilling 3-3 draw.

From Selhurst Park in Croydon to the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro is quite a change of scenery. I had to pinch myself a little bit.

As soon as we got on the Metro towards the stadium you already got a sense of the magnitude of this game.

colombia3Colombians and Uruguayans were singing at full pelt as they got ready to back their teams. I did not understand a word of what they were saying but it was catchy.

When we arrived at the Maracana I knew I was arriving at a place steeped in footballing history. I was genuinely in awe as I walked through the turnstiles and made my way into the heart of the stadium.

We skipped past the beer and refreshment kiosks – they could wait until half time – and got to the entrance to our block of seats.

The cacophony of noise as I walked into the stadium proper and up to my seat was superb.

It was obvious that the majority of the crowd was routing for Colombia from Brazilians to Englishmen all blending in as Colombia fans. The singing throughout the game was relentless and, from where I was sitting, there was not a single quiet moment.

The only bad thing about the game was the final whistle came too quickly. I wanted to more of this atmosphere.

Walking out of the stadium with hundreds of elated Colombia fans it dawned on me just how lucky I was.

I might never go to another World Cup match in my lifetime, but to see a game between two South American teams at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro means I have seen a game at one of the greatest tournaments in the world at one of the greatest venues. I am pretty content with that. 

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