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World Cup Diary Day 5: England expects ahead of opener

| 15.06.2014

The day is finally upon us! England and Italy meet in the Amazon Rainforest for their Group D clash with plenty of money being staked in support of Roy Hodgson’s side.

I’m off to take my place at the FIFA Fan Fest in Manaus and see if the Three Lions can conjure up what would be a very welcome three points to kick-off their World Cup campaign.

World Cup Diary Day 5

12:00 –  Following a hearty breakfast of tapioca pancakes, it’s time to head back to the Fan Fest to see what sort of a turnout we might get for the big Colombia – Greece clash.

As you can see, this match hasn’t quite captured local attention in the same way, although I do spot another St. George’s cross.

WorldCup fanfest

Resisting the temptation to sit and watch I head for a little wander around to find a group of people who appear to have been paid to dress up as beer cans with a simple brief of encouraging those passing by to dance with them. I’m not sure why, but all of a sudden I feel thirsty.

Fans dressed as beer cans party in Manaus, Brazil

14:00 – Back to the hotel to check in with the traders. It looks like following the Buffon news, the market is moving very firmly in favour of England and the patriotic punt mentioned yesterday has turned from a trickle into a deluge. England now set to go off firm favourites for the big game.

16:00 –  Time to head back to the Arena. I was promised a good old fashioned Brazilian traffic jam yesterday, but so far everything goes without a hitch and I’m back in plenty of time.

16:30 – FIFA have erected a ring of steel a good half mile around the perimeter of the ground, so keen to find out where the England fans might be streaming in from I skirt around, only to find that  so vast is the fence there’s a real dispersal of fans and coupled with the intense heat and lack of shade, not much in the way of congregating and singing.

16:38 –  Courtesy of the excellent high-speed 4G connection seemingly only found in the centre of the world’s largest rainforest, I check in on the markets again and it looks like England could go off around 6/4 for the game having opened up almost 9/4 when betting began.

That’s some punt and taking our Italy win concession into account, there’s never been more of an excuse to cheer on the draw.

Thankfully, worrying about results isn’t my job so just like the fans over here and everyone at home I can pray the game is landed and will the boys on with all my heart.

16:50 – Yesterday’s garage has very sensibly realised its forecourt is one of the few places offering any kind of shade so has turned itself into a big outdoor drinking area. Fans are mingling in great spirits and it’s starting to become clear that quite a few locals are supporting Italy.

England fans seek shade in Manaus ahead of their teams's World Cup Group D game against Italy

17:15 –  Back across to the other entrance and I come across an England fan ready to rival Mr Chainmail for best fancy dress of the trip.

I don’t get a chance to find out any more detail as he’s being absolutely mobbed for pictures, but the creepy crawly/jungle St George’s morphsuit is a work of art and must be worth every litre of sweat it induces.

Time to get settled for the match now and anticipation is steadily rising in the way that it only can in advance of the first game of a World Cup campaign.

20:25 –  Well. What to make of that… The view amongst the press is that there have certainly been far worse England games at major tournaments in terms of tempo, desire and overall willingness to win with  the younger players putting in positive performances as expected, but sadly in the group stages you only get three chances and wanting to win and losing isn’t enough.

21:41 –  Bar pockets of ‘Italia, Italia’ there’s not much in the way of celebration from the travelling and home Azzurri contingent.

The emotional drain after the result coupled with the conditions has clearly taken its toll on the England fans.

However, although everyone I speak to is absolutely thrilled to have come to such a unique and remote venue for a football match, you can’t help but feel  they’d have liked a win as their reward for travelling.

Sadly, just as those who went to Japan and South Africa found out, it doesn’t work like that.

Surprise surprise, it’s another  early start tomorrow to go back to Rio so it’s time to scan the online media’s reaction to the game before turning in.


Read all about my World Cup odyssey on Ladbrokes News and follow me on Twitter @LadsAlex!

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Alex Donohue

One third of Ladbrokes' PR team, Alex covers football, politics and current affairs and is also involved in the bookmaker's SPFL sponsorship.
Check out his latest press releases and odds at Ladbrokes News.