Dispatches from the Maracana: Chilean Fiesta


Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The World Cup has reached a fever pitch in Rio. Over the past couple of days I have experienced some incredible moments: Argentina’s crazy fans, Messi’s goal, and JOHN ANTHONY BROOKS, just to name a few.

However, the experience at the Maracana on Wednesday night was one of the highlights of the trip thus far. Two incredible teams, both desperate to claim a spot in the knockout round, both in desperate need of a victory, specifically Spain. It had all the makings of a classic.

While I believed before the match that this would be an epic duel, it turned out to be more of an epic dud. It was more of a coronation of South America’s dominance on its continental soil and the end of Spain’s mighty dynasty.

Let’s start with pre game. One of the worst parts of the experience in Rio has been the subway rides to the stadium. To say that we’re packed in like sardines would be an understatement. The subway cars are packed to the brim with sweaty men with face paint. It’s literally a clown car.

However, it’s still an enjoyable experience one you get to breathe fresh oxygen again. The South American fans are soccer crazy. To be honest, they put Europe to shame. This is mostly due to the location of the World Cup, but I’m pretty sure that the English, German, Italian, French, and Spanish fans don’t cheer for their teams the way that Brazil, Argentina, and Chile have thus far this tournament. To say these South American fans are irrationally confident and inordinately excited would be an understatement.

Not only did the Chilean fans dominate the Maracanã with numbers and voices, they dominated it on the pitch and with their elaborate chants. I’ve experienced their famous chant before. I’ve seen Fernando Gonzalez, the famed Chilean tennis star, play in person. The “CHI-CHI-CHI LE-LE-LE VIVA CHILE” chants are not unfamiliar to me. However, in person, inside the Maracanã, with 50,000+ of them? It’s a whole different level. So cheers to Chile and their fans. Color me impressed.

As for the game, like I mentioned it was mostly a dud. Chile picked their spots to attack and impressed me for the most part. They capitalized on Spain’s patience and let them pass their way to defeat. Someone should tell Vincent Del Bosque that you can’t pass your way into a goal. Not in this tournament. Not this year.

Spain was a disaster. Their fans didn’t show up, they passed around mid pitch for a solid 75 minutes of the game, and refused to put shots on goal even when the opportunities were there for the taking. Quite simply, they got what they deserved for playing such a conservative game.

This is the end of the Spanish dynasty. They’ve won the last two Euros and the 2010 World Cup. That’s a dynasty. However, now they are headed home after two games in which they allowed seven goals and only scored on a semi-BS penalty shot. It was an older team that had given everything it had to its country. It simply couldn’t muster another magical ride. Spain will play Australia is the most meaningless game of the tournament. If they lose, they will likely finish in dead last, 32 out of 32, while holding the cup. That’s gives a whole new meaning to bottoming out.

Meanwhile, Chile will move on to face the Netherlands in what should be a fantastic match-up and will decide who wins the group. While the men in Orange will be the favorites, don’t sleep on Chile. This team is for real. I saw it with my own eyes. It wouldn’t shock me now if they somehow find themselves in the semifinals of the 2014 World Cup. It may not be likely, but anything in the years tournament is possible. Anything!