Pitch fever is currently growing in Brazil, as the country prepares to host the FIFA World Cup in 2014. Brazilians are incredibly passionate about the game at any time, so the World Cup is sure to be a frenzied and exhilarating time all across the country, with national flags flown and sporting kits worn with immense pride.
There are twelve host cities right around the country. The games will begin on the 12th of June 2014 at Arena Itaquera in Brazil’s largest city of Sao Paulo.
Two cities will host seven games, four will host six games, and five matches will be played in two of the cities. The remaining four host cities will each see four games played in their stadiums.
The 2014 World Cup Host Cities
One of the country’s biggest stadiums, the National Stadium in the capital city of Brasilia will host seven matches. The stadium is one of the most expensive in the country, and it can accommodate up to 71,000 people. The match for third place in the enormous and globally renowned competition will be played here. The city boasts some great attractions, including a stunning cathedral, National Congress, lovely botanical gardens, museums, galleries, and memorials. There is good shopping in the city, and part of the city area falls within an exotic national park. Visitors can combine city highlights, football, nature, and jungle. There are several popular places that are easily day trippable from the city.
Rio de Janeiro
Famous for the exuberant and vibrant carnival, the much visited city of Rio de Janeiro is also set to host seven football matches. The enormous Maracana Stadium is another of the country’s largest stadiums, and will see some electric games as well as the intense and nail-biting final game. Away from the stadium visitors can relax on heavenly beaches, ride the cable car to the magnificent and iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, see the well known Sugar Loaf Mountain, and enjoy everything else that this fantastic city has in store.
Sao Paulo’s Arena Itaquera will hold six games. The sprawling city tempts multitudes of visitors at all times of year, known for its pulsating night life and plethora of cultural attractions.
Six matches will be played at Fortaleza’s Castelao Stadium. Named in honour of a former state governor, the stadium will see at least one game that includes the Brazilian team. The national team may play here twice. Fortaleza is gaining popularity on the Brazilian travel circuit, with nice urban beaches, beautiful and evocative restored colonial architecture, and a youthful and dynamic atmosphere.
Fonte Nova in laid back Salvador will also host six World Cup matches. The city boasts culture galore, pristine beaches, and a fabulous historic Old Town. It usually draws an arty crowd and has a more Bohemian feel than other parts of the country. The city enjoys a good tourist infrastructure, and it is thought that several teams will take advantage of this and use Salvador as a base whilst in Brazil.
In the state of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte’s Minairao Stadium will host six games, including one of the semi-final matches. A large stadium, it has a capacity of 67,000. Within the city one can also find treasures such as Marista Hall, the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi, Palacio das Artes, and the lovely Mangabeiras Park. Belo Horizonte is the country’s third largest city, and offers lots by way of entertainment and amusement.
Recife is the nearest major city to Arena Pernambuco, which will host five games. The arena is actually in the city of Sao Lourenco da Mata within the Recife metropolitan area, but there are little facilities for visitors in this city, meaning that one would do better staying in Recife. The state is Pernambuco.
The stadium in Porto Alegra is called is Estadio Jose Pinheiro Borda, although it is often referred to as Beira-Rio. The state is Rio Grande do Sul. Five World Cup games will be played here.
In the state of Mato Grosso, Cuiaba’s Arena Pantanal will host four games. The stadium is also often called Verdao, which translates into the Big Green. This is due to the green colours of the stadium’s interior and exterior. Nature is close to hand, and visitors can enjoy various outdoor activities with ease.
Arena Amazonia is in Manaus; four World Cup games will be played here. Manaus is a major gateway to the lush and exciting Amazon Rainforest. Brimming with interesting wildlife, the Amazon area offers an experience like no other. Visitors can take a boat trip along the mighty Amazon River, meet indigenous people who call the jungle home, and admire a wide range of flora and fauna.
In the state of Parana, Curitiba’s Arena da Baixada is due to host four World Cup matches. The cooler conditions will make it an excellent location for teams who come from colder climates.
Four games will be played in Natal at Arena das Dunas. Named after the rolling and unusual sand dunes that lie along the coastal areas, it is a fairly small stadium. Visitors can take a break from football and explore the incredible dunes and enjoy the picturesque coastal scenery.
For those interested in attending any World Cup game in Brazil, it is essential to buy tickets and book transport and accommodation as far in advance as possible, as things will sell out incredibly quickly. It would be a shame to miss out because of poor planning! Of course, matches will be televised, and one can watch them either at home or in one of many Brazil’s bars, but there is nothing quite the same as the excitement and rush of being a spectator at a live game.