Having learned my lesson after the first match here in Salvador, I bought my round-trip bus ticket to the stadium at Shopping Barra and received my card. The volunteers were emphasizing to everyone that they needed to keep the card for the return journey. Apparently, there were other ways to screw up the system that I hadn’t considered Friday.
During the bus ride, I saw a motorcade complete with motorcycle police and several dangerous looking SUVs surrounding one limousine with a Brazilian flag and a German flag. My guess that Angela Merkel was attending the match was proved correct at the end of the game when I saw her on the stadium big screen.
The match kicked off at 1pm. Based on my experience at the earlier match, I knew I’d be in the sun for most of the ninety minutes. I didn’t realize how precisely the fates timed things. I was closer to the field and closer to the center line. When I first arrived my seat was in shade but I watched as the Earth turned and the bright sun line drew ever closer. It struck my eyes at practically the same moment the referee signaled play to begin. Since the sun was to my right, I have a slightly asymmetric sunburn. It’s not as bad as Richard Dreyfuss’ character in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but I can tell.
The Germans played an elegant defense, just like the Dutch did in my first match. I’ve come to really appreciate the way some defenders can subtly defuse an attack just by positioning themselves correctly.
I must admit I am prejudiced against Cristiano Ronaldo ever since his diving in the 2006 World Cup. I remember four years in Cape Town watching him play against North Korea and how he did not have much of an impact until after Portugal already had the game in hand but once he started to play, he was phenomenal.
It was a glorious afternoon in the hot Brazilian sun but I am so happy the stars and moon are out now as their light is much more pleasing to my poor abused eyes.