I have been to watch a day of sports at the Olympics. I’ve seen Liverpool FC play at Wembley. I’ve cheered on Mexico at the Estadio Azteca. But there are still a few more sporting events that I want to see in the flesh. I must see Liverpool play at Anfield. Hopefully next season. I have long wanted to watch a session of the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible in Sheffield – I have a ticket for the next tournament in April 2019. And my life won’t be complete unless I watch a World Cup game. And today, that may have just become possible. Mexico will host the 2026 World Cup, along with the US and Canada.
This week I have a double Give Away. I stumbled across a huge stack of old postcards from the 70’s in a street market, and I bought a few cards. Four to be precise. I’m saving two of them for after the World Cup, when my Postcard Delivery Service returns to normal. But the other two cards, of the main stadiums in Mexico City – they are up for grabs now.
You can only claim one card – the first to claim can choose between the Estadio Azteca and the Olympic stadium. The second person to claim gets whichever one isn’t chosen by the first person. Real simple! They both are really cool postcards though. As far as postcards are concerned I guess you could call them antique. And both stadiums have World Cup history.
Want one of them? Anyone can claim one, no strings attached, no matter where you are in the world, providing you haven’t already claimed one of my World Cup Give Aways. Just add a comment to this post claiming it, then send me an email using my Contact page to let me know where to send it to. Simple as that.
I’d picked out Chile as a force to be reckoned with at the World Cup in an earlier post, and despite yesterday’s slightly lame showing I’m going to stick with that tip. Friendlies just aren’t the same thing as a competitive World Cup game. I’m not the only one who thinks so, mind you. Tim Vickery of the BBC agrees. I reckon he’s just copying my posts though…
I shot some video from the Azteca, along with some photos. Here’s the finished product. Needless to say I missed the goal itself, but you can catch that on YouTube. I did include the song Cielito Lindo, which I mentioned in yesterday’s post, at the beginning before the video action starts.
For the last year or so I’ve been sending postcards around the world to random visitors to my site. I started that having been sent a card by another blogger. It seemed a cool idea. I carried it on, because it was my little bit to help promote Mexico in a more positive light, what with all the doom and gloom Swine Flu/ Narco War press the country was getting last year. Now I do it just because….well, just because.
But it seems a popular idea, so I thought, for the upcoming World Cup, I’d do something similar. But different. Over the next ten weeks I’m going to give away World Cup souvenirs/mementos/bits and bobs. All with a Mexican flavour. Ten weeks, ten items. None of them are going to be big, because then the postage will cost me an arm and a leg. None of them will be expensive, because quite frankly I’m a bit of a tight fisted bastard. But they’ll all be cheery!
And they won’t all be postcards either. Except for this first give-away. Which is a postcard. Of the mighty Azteca stadium. The only stadium to have hosted two World Cup finals. The scene of Brazil’s 4-1 thrashing of Italy in 1970, considered by most people to be the greatest final of them all. And the earlier game in that tournament between Italy and Germany, regarded by some as the greatest game ever played in the World Cup full stop. It was here Maradonna bewitched the English defence and scored arguably the greatest World Cup goal of all time. And in the same match he gained infamy for his ‘Hand of God’ incident. Before leading Argentina to victory over Germany in the final.
It’s an awesome stadium. I’ll be there to watch Mexico versus Chile in a few weeks time – I’m sure I’ll find something cheap there to give away. We’ll see. Until then, here’s the postcard. Want it? Leave me a comment to claim it, and then send me an email thru my Contact page to tell me where to send it. Anyone and everyone, wherever you are in the world, are perfectly eligible to claim it. Even you, señor Maradona. Although I may have a little accident and spit on the card instead of the stamp before I post it… 🙂
Less than two months to go, and my preparations are in place. My students have been informed – any big games during their classes, and they don’t get a class. I’ve forked out 15 pesos for a Panini sticker album. I know, I’m a bit old for that, but I’m always convinced that this time will be England’s glorious moment, and I want all the souvenirs going. I’ll not be buying an England top this time round, but will invest in a green Mexican short of some (not too costly) nature. I also have Sky Sports, but I’ll be heading into the centre of the city for Mexico’s games. Armed with my camera, and ready to record the mad procession to and then around, and around, and around the Angel of Independence. As is the tradition.
Most importantly of all, I have bought four tickets to see Mexico play Chile at the Estadio Azteca in May, their last game in the country before they head off to play a few friendlies in Europe (including England at Wembley) prior to their first game in the World Cup in South Africa. Which will actually be the first game of the tournament. They open the event against the hosts, South Africa. What are their chances? They have a really tough group. It’s hard to see how they could have got a tougher group. Hosts South Africa, France and a slightly resurgent Uruguay. I personally fancy them to go through with France. A host nation has never gone out in the opening group phase before, but there’s always a first time. This could well be it.
From there, in the knock out stages, it is anyones game. Most Mexicans are pretty pessimistic. The general consensus is that they’ll put up a mighty battle against the first decent team they play, make everyone proud, and then get back on the plane to come home having lost. Their pessimism has historical support – that is normally exactly what happens. But at almost every tournement you’ll get one unfancied nation, one minor dark horse, get through to the semi finals. I’d like to think Mexico could be that team. They’ve played some great football since Hugo Sanchez left, having left them teetering on the brink of failure to qualify at all. Javier Aguierre has turned their fortunes around dramatically, with some thumping wins – it’ll be a long time before Mexicans forget the 5-0 thrashing they gave their northern neighbours in the final of the Gold Cup.
Mexico has a nice blend of experience and youth too. Rafael Marquez and Cuahuatemoc Blanco have been there, done that, got the T-shirt. The former is Mexico’s most successful footballer ever, with two European Champions League medals to his credit. The latter is, in my opinion, the greatest player to have ever pulled on a Mexico shirt. They have a number of other players who have plyed their trade in Europe, including a couple of youngsters who have Premier League experience in England. There’s also the new sensation Javier ‘Little Pea’ Hernandez who has just signed to play for Manchester United next season. Add in a few professional stalwarts like Cruz Azul’s Gerrado Torrado, and you have a pretty balanced team, high on talent, confidence and ability.
I’m looking forward to that game at the Azteca though. There are still tickets available at the time of writing, but don’t hang around – it’s likely to sell out before too long. I’ve been to see plenty of games in Mexico City, but all of them at Estadio Azul, home of Cruz Azul, my adopted team. I have actually been to the Azteca, a year or so ago. You can turn up most afternoons, slip the guy at the gate a few pesos (about 25 if I remember rightly) and you’ll get let inside to have a good wander round. If you’re quick, you can step on the grass and pretend to be Pele at the 1970 World Cup. But be quick, because you’ll get shouted at for trespassing on such hallowed turf…