We went in to the ticket office the day before the game- a bit late of course, but Chile haven't been playing all that well lately (the last start was a 4-0 loss to Uruguay), so I thought attendances may have dropped. Well I was wrong, so we had to get tickets in the Andes section, which was a bit pricier than we were hoping for.
Ole, Ole, Ole, Chileeeeee, Chileeeee
It took us a bus, a ride on the metro, another bus and a bit of a walk to get over there. It's not actually all that far away, but it will definitely be good once there is a metro line directly there, a project which is currently underway.
Our seats were pretty close to the action, just a few rows back from the front, although the stadium has a big fence, and then an athletics track before you actually get to the field, so of course it's impossible to be right next to the action.
Chile started well, they were really dominating the possession in the early exchanges- they forced a number of corners, but really didn't capitalise on them. I haven't done my research much on the team, but I was very impressed with number 7, who plays for Barcelona.
The atmosphere of the stadium was pretty amazing to witness- the chants of CHI CHI CHI- LE LE LE-VIVA CHILE!!!! were practically continuous right the way through the game- along with another song that started VAMOS CHILENOS, and translated roughly to Let's go Chile, tonight we must win.
And really, that was true. I saw a liftout from the newspaper on the ground, and on reading it found that in World Cup qualifiers, Chile had only beaten Paraguay twice. Going into the game they were also equal last on the standings with Bolivia, so a win would lift them slightly on the table.
Win they did as well, they kicked a goal in either half, and Paraguay had no response, although there were a couple of close calls. The ref was very trigger happy with his cards, by my count there were at least 6 amarillos (yellows) given out.
Having a look it seems that was a very important win, as they are now in 5th place, though there are a couple of teams still to play below them on the ladder. It was interesting to see how many teams qualify from each region to see what makes the "world" of the cups. South America get 4.5 spots, half the teams that compete, while the Asia region gets the same amount of spots from over 40 teams, whilst the Europeans get 13 or so spots in the cup. It will be interesting to see if that changes over the upcoming years. Of course the quality of the different regions differs a lot, and of course there is a high, high level of quality here in South America.
I also noticed that there could be the possibility of Australia coming up against Chile for a place in the finals, as the 5th placed Asian nation goes against the 5th place South American...hopefully Australia will not need to be in that position though.
The difference in atmosphere, and quality of match between watching Australia thump Malaysia 5-0 in Canberra just before we left, and to watch another match with two quite strong teams, with a very vocal home crowd, you might call it a sea of red, that was very noticable. Drums, trumpets, singing, shouting, jumping, the works. A big difference from the slight hand claps from the Australian crowds.
So the first thing to remember the next time the National Selection plays at home, get the tickets early! The next qualifiers aren't until next year, so will have to check out a couple of them.
After the match we wandered down to our good friend Villa's house- just before midnight so we could say feliz cumpleaños right on time, we had some cake and a couple of beers there.
So a pretty good day in all- I was actually fairly ill the day before- so it was a pretty good way to bounce back.