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Michael Lewis

June 23, 2014
DON'T BLAME IT ON RIO, DAY 12
How revered the Brazilian team really is


SAO PAULO, Brazil -- I sit here in the U.S. Soccer media center at our hotel with two televisions on at the same time to watch a series of games as the third phase of the group stage will be played.

On one of the networks is wall-to-wall coverage of the Brazilian team -- not on the field, but the motorcade to the stadium in Brasilia.

It's as though they were televising a presidential motorcade.
The motorcade proceeded until it arrived at the stadium, where each each and every player was shown leaving the bus.
The TV station even showed the game officials walking on the field, testing out its condition.

It was so surreal. (All you California readers will know what I mean with all of the car chases that are televised in your neck of the country.)

The American media wound up watching two games at once, the Netherlands-Chile and Australia-Spain in the early encounters.
For the second round of the double doubleheader, we had Mexico-Croatia on one TV with the sound and Brazil-Cameroon on the other muted.

We definitely knew when Brazil scored because cheers from the neighborhood usually heralded goals on the TV (it was about five seconds behind real time). Then came the fireworks.

Watching both matches at the same time made for an intriguing scenario. Brazil and Mexico, which both finished at 2-0-1 and seven points in Group A, at one time were tied for the group lead. But Mexico allowed the Croatians to score as the host country clinched the group crown, avoiding the Netherlands (3-0 in Group B) in the second round.

Monday was an off-day for the U.S. media covering the national side as coach Jurgen Klinsmann was not available, although we did get a quote sheet from an internal interview.
One last thing:

The media contingent covering the USA had just about enough time after the USA-Portugal game to get back to the hotel, shower and get two hours of sleep. Our bus to the airport left at 3:15 a.m.. Our flight from Manaus left at 4:50 a.m. and arrived here a little before 10 a.m.

We didn't get much sleep, but hey, it's the World Cup.

   
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