Brazil hosted fellow South Americans, Chile, in an international friendly at the Emirates stadium today.
From around midday the North London pubs started filling up and fans were in full voice right until just before 3pm, as they left to go in to the ground. It was like a miniature version of the Rio carnival, only in the streets of London instead of the more glamorous Copacobana beach.
There was an electric atmosphere inside the ground before kick off, as fans took to their seats before the national anthems. Both sets of fans were in great spirit, not forgetting the neutrals who were hoping to see some real Brazilian flair on show.
As the teams walked out of the tunnel the crowd began applauding and when Alexis Sanchez lined up alongside his fellow countrymen, the whole stadium erupted.
From the opening 20 minutes you could tell this was more than just a friendly for both teams. Neymar found plenty of the ball but the Chilean’s gave him no time to create anything on the attack. Inter Milan’s Gary Medel smashed into the back of the Brazilian on numerous occasions, and you could tell frustration was kicking in as he lunged out on Arturo Vidal, picking up a yellow. It was almost as if the young captain was trying too hard to take control of the game.
The first 45 minutes were more reminiscent of a Stoke City vs Bolton Wanderers game from two years ago, as neither teams were living up to their high expectations. Both were trying hopeful long balls and putting in dangerous tackles; many of which deserved bookings but play was repeatedly waved on by referee Martin Atkinson.
Sanchez was Chile’s biggest threat in the second half and was cheered by fans around the stadium whenever he was on the ball. Arsenal’s number 18, however, failed to make the keeper work as he did in the two countries World Cup encouter where his goal took the game to penalties.
The only goal of the game came deep into the second half as three of Dunga’s substitutes combined in the opposition half. Robinho won the ball on the left and switched to Willian, who played in Roberto Firmino. The promising 23 year old, who plays in the Bundesliga for Hoffenheim, rounded the keeper and slotted home in true Brazilian style with a “no-look” finish.
This gave the whole stadium a huge lift; no one in the ground wanted to witness a bore draw.
All-in-all the Emirates hosted a great afternoon. What it lacked in quality on the pitch, it made up for by the fans who were singing throughout. The constant Mexican Waves and the three streakers right at the end will live long in the memories of those youngsters attending their first international match.