SC Corinthians Away Day (O Clásico)

Welcome to the final piece in what was a truly incredible week for me in the Brazilian metropolis of São Paulo. I still live here, and will do until June, but I will never forget my first week and the footballing adventure that it took me on. This article covers the final game of the week before I headed back to Rio de Janeiro for Carnival, so it needed to be of a suitable occasion.

Fortunately, the Football Gods (and Brazilian fixture men) had placed a Clásico on my final day in São Paulo. Not just any Clásico either, but a battle between fierce rivals Corinthians and Palmeiras that would commemorate 100 years of the fixture. It was a big occasion in the city and a big occasion for me and the blog (kinda). The newspaper covers and TV channels were hyping the game up for a few days previously, so I already knew this was going to be a good one. Enjoy the finale…

Corinthians vs Palmeiras, Campeonato Paulista*, Arena Corinthians, 22/02/2017

The game was a 9:45pm kick-off, which would be enough to make the average tourist squirm slightly; the stadium lies in a more modest outskirt of the city, where crime is more prevalent than in the centre. It didn’t bother me too much though and I set off on the metro as the night set in. The Corinthians-Itaquera station sits on the other end of the line to the Palmeiras-Barra Funda station, making it a direct 1 hour trip between the two. I subsequently christened this the ‘Red Line Derby’, and hopped on at my station, Santa Cecilia, for the 40 minute trundle towards the Arena Corinthians.

The atmosphere was electric and as I got off my metro, I was greeted with the sight of about 50 Corinthians fans (seemingly ultras) who were going through the motions of their singing ‘routine’. If the late kick-off team risked any doziness among myself and other fans, these lads certainly perked us up. As with all the games, the fans passion was transferable and my sensors immediately lit up and ignited the buzzing feeling that football seems to impose on me. I made the 20 minute walk up the hill in a sea of white shirts and approached the unique structure that they call home.

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São Paulo FC Away Day

Hello everyone. Firstly, if anyone that hasn’t read the Palmeiras piece (HERE), I suggest you go there now to see a full briefing of what’s going on with this little series. As a quick recap, I am currently living in São Paulo, and in my first week here I found myself going to three matches in the space of seven days.

For any football fan this is an exciting, stimulating experience, but considering I have this platform to write about my experiences, I watched every gave with an especially keen eye on the quirks and traditions that make Brazilian football special. This match especially set itself aside from the two fixtures that had sandwiched it into the centre of my week. It was edgy, alternative and a very raw exposure to the beautiful game. I hope you enjoy the read…

São Paulo FC vs São Bento, Campeonato Paulista*, Estádio do Morumbi, 21/02/2017.

So we march onto the next fixture and to the following Tuesday, as I took a trip to watch the city’s namesake in action. One may assume that this gives them the title of the main team in São Paulo, and trophy-wise they are, but in terms of supporter-ship Corinthians are the darling of the city with over 26million fans (compared to 16million São Paulo fans and 13million Palmeiras fans). Out of the three matches this was definitely, on-paper, the least appealing, but the ticket cost about £5 so there was no-way I was turning that down.

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SE Palmeiras Away Day

On arrival in the Brazilian city of São Paulo, there was one thing that stood out to me. The financial hub of Brazil brings less touristic hot-spots then its glamorous sister Rio de Janeiro, but as a fan of football it’s a pot of gold. I did my research and had a look at what clubs called São Paulo their home, finding three big names: Palmeiras, Corinthians and São Paulo FC.

Three big teams brings an abundance of riches to mind. The stadia of the city is impressive, and includes a brilliant fusion of modernity and tradition that represent both the history and developing future of the sport in the country. The paulista people are football-mad and every taxi driver or guy in a bar will be able to discuss and debate with you for however long you wish – there’s no better way to improve my Portuguese. The city’s heart is pumping with football-infused blood.

The final, and most important, benefit of a city with such footballing heritage is the potential to go to games. However much football you watch on TV or online, nothing compares to the live experience. This is especially relevant in South America where the atmosphere created by the fans is a cauldron, wherever you go whenever you go. Having been to see San Lorenzo and Boca Juniors in Argentina and already seeing a Brazil international in Rio de Janeiro, the consistency is clear; the fans make the experience.

The quality is far inferior than that in Europe’s top leagues, there’s no contesting that, but the support is in a league of its own. As a Chelsea fan, I can hold my hands up and bow down to the home-support that they offer over here. We’re watching Eden Hazard and they’re watching Jô (ex-Manchester City flop) but we’re clapping and they’re screaming.

SIMG_7326.JPGo I had a 10 day period in São Paulo before heading back to Rio de Janeiro for Carnival, and I ticked off the main tourist hotspots in my first few days. So what’s a football fan to do with themselves? Well, I wanted to see some football. I knew that I had arrived in a time of the year when football is most accessible, with the Campeonato Paulista* in full flow. I checked the websites of the ‘Big Three’, and selected three games for the next week. This schedule would take me to the stadiums of Palmeiras (Allianz Parque), São Paulo (Estádio do Morumbi) and Corinthians (Arena Corinthians) in each corner of the city. Despite all ‘travel advice and warnings’, I would go alone to every match and experience a match-day as the locals do it. First up was a trip to see the champions of Brazil – where else to start – and I was off to watch Palmeiras.

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