RIO DE JANEIRO — Tens of thousands of fans flocked to Rio de Janeiro for the World Cup final match between Germany and Argentina yesterday, joining hundreds of millions around the globe who celebrated the last game of the monthlong football festival.
With Argentina right next door to Brazil, it was no surprise that Rio de Janeiro was completely awash in the sky-blue jerseys of that nation’s team, with upward of 70,000 “hermanos” flooding into the seaside city and making themselves at home.
Fans started partying hard early on the golden sands of Copacabana beach, swigging beer under a hot tropical sun.
Javier Gonzalez traveled 40 hours by car from Buenos Aires to get to Rio in time for the match. He and four friends held out hopes of finding tickets for the final — but only had $230 a piece to spend, far less than what scalped tickets are going for. But he reckoned Brazilians with tickets will soon be desperate to be rid of them.
German fan Andreas Howedes, 28, headed to his entry gate at the Maracana stadium relatively confident Germany would win — but scared that Argentine star Lionel Messi might have a spectacular game and help his side emerge victorious.
“My hope is 2-0 for Germany and my fear is we have traveled so far for a big loss,” he said. “We have a great team, a great defense and play with discipline. I’m putting all my hopes in our defense to stop Messi.”
There was a heavy security presence around the stadium and across Rio. More than 25,000 police and soldiers were on guard just for the game, according to officials, providing the biggest security detail in Brazilian history.
Inside the stadium, world leaders including Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose nation will host the 2018 World Cup, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were sitting in the stands with FIFA’s President Sepp Blatter, watching some pre-match entertainment.