Woo hoo! I didn’t miss my flight today!
This was a new stadium for me, though that is all I saw – the airport and the stadium. Apparently in the winder it is -20c. Today was near +40c. Is there a place on Earth with a more varied temperature change?
The shuttle bus from the airport to the stadium was like a sauna. Walking the 1km walk to the stadium from the drop off point was a challenge. Another day to remember when I am complaining about the wind and the rain at Stoke City. Following thousands of Mexicans to the stadium, made the walk more enjoyable, most singing songs about the exit of Argentina.
The fans have a totally different match-day experience and are totally forbidden to go to certain areas of the stadium.
About a quarter of todays stadium is sealed off for fans. This the broadcasters and media area,
Unsightly fences seal off the stadium creating paths and walkways into a mini village. Signage tries to soften up the hard fences with World Cup logos in Russian and English. It looks more like the backstage at a rock festival.
Signs show the way for photographers to the pitch, though I still prefer France 98 when TV followed red lines painted on the ground and photographers followed the green ones to the pitch from the media centre.
The games may look cool and amazing. The stadiums may look elegant, modern and spectcular on TV but behind the scenes it is much less glamorous.
The first time you enter a new stadium, you quite literally have no idea where you are going. But soon we are at pitch-side.
It is like a sauna in the stadium and the fun stats of trying to spot unique fans without other photographers noticing!
Eventually we all gather for the National Anthems. Thankfully today there are not many here, at the final there will be over 150 in this small space. People are starting to talk about going home. I return to my seat wondering if I had just seen colleagues for the last time in a long while.
The game starts, the sauna gets hotter. The three bottles of orange juice I have in my bag are gone within the first ten minutes.
At half time I move. It was a good job, Neymar scores early on.
I can not stand the little rat! He is no where in the same league as Messi or Ronaldo. Yet the world’s media seem to be obsessed with him.
Although he goes down like he has been assassinated, he does all the right things in front of the cameras. Any youngster who mutters the names Coutinho, Neymar and William in the same vain as Zico, Falcao and Socrates needs a red card and some serious VAR to show why.
Mexico though do not have enough to turn them over and they get a second during the latter stages of the game.
I watch Belgium v Japan on TV in the media centre. Japan 2-0 up. Its 3am in Japan and my friends in Tokyo are going crazy on WhatsApp. Sadly Belgium win 3-2. WBA’s Nacer Chadli scores the winner! I doubt he will stay at WBA now after that epic goal!
This World Cup is starting to be very interesting, though if you are a Japan nut like me, today very cruel.
Back at the airport, Brazil and Mexico fans mingle with dignity. I smell, itch and need sleep. One more game then two days off.
I am aching for my 5am flight so that I can sleep.