(Writers’ note, at the time of writing Brazil, had just been knocked out by Belgium.)
The World Cup is now in the quarterfinal stages, so The Carolinian went out to find out how the rest of Greensboro felt about it. I surveyed three bars: Boxcar Bar + Arcade, Natty Greene’s and Old Town. Old Town, unfortunately, had very little people in it because all of us fine UNCG Students are no longer around to populate it. Regardless, there were some people there who were or were not interested in the World Cup.
At Boxcar, was John, 23, a police officer. The conversation was undertaken with the understanding that John’s real name and age would be made up for his own privacy. John seemed to be fairly disinterested in the World Cup.
“I love football, but the real football. I’m not particularly happy about it being set in Russia, either. They’re not even that good! Are they?” he enthused, undoubtedly spurred on by PBR. “Well anyway, if I was to back anyone, it’d be Brazil, just because I know them,” he said.
Well, they actually aren’t that good, but the Russians are still somehow alive in this tournament.
John was the only one who seemed capable or indeed informed enough to know that there was a World Cup going on, a far cry from any bar or club that one might go to in Europe, or even Canada or Mexico for that matter. It was astonishing, as a Scotsman, to be in a bar at the time of the World Cup and to have the majority of the patrons around you to be blissfully unaware of the delicate geopolitics taking place on a football field across the world. With an aghast and slightly inebriated look on my face, it was only a short stroll over to the fair establishment of Natty Greene’s.
Here, there were many patrons who were more inclined to have a chat about the World Cup. First, there was Andrea from Guatemala. She seemed enthusiastic to hear that someone else wanted to talk about the World Cup. She was rooting hard for Colombia before the English knocked them out of the competition. Now, she was also rooting for Brazil.
“I really love football, and I have no idea what happened to Germany this year, but I am happy they won’t be in the quarterfinals. Go Brazil!” Andrea said.
Her friends all nodded eagerly in agreement, and with that, it was time to leave Natty Greene’s. On the Uber ride home, it was easy to reflect happily upon the favorable World Cup standings.
That was, until today.
Brazil played Belgium in the quarterfinals and lost a meager 2-1 to the Belgian mediocre attempt at a game. Now, do not get the tone wrong here. Belgium has a Phenomenal team with a capitalized P. Their midfield and attack are young and brilliant, more than they have any right to be. Belgium has a population of 11.5 million, but if this World Cup has taught the footballing world anything, it’s that size and old ideas of who was ‘good’ has been proven to be moot.
Brazil, as always, played with style but rarely without substance. Neymar Jr. was on the rare form of non-theatrical football, flexing his stylistic muscle. Marcello crossed the ball into the box with form, but the Brazilian front three failed to make anything out of it, bar Augusto’s goal at 76 minutes.
After watching the game with great sadness, it was clear that the Serbian referee really committed some real war crimes on the field by not allowing at least two very clear penalties for some salacious fouls. As always, the opposing team targeted Neymar, and thus hamstrung the Brazilian attack. Now moving on to the semifinals, it will be interesting to see how far Belgium will get in this World Cup.