We arrived in Belo Horizonte early Monday following a 12 hour overnight bus journey from Angres and spent the day exploring the city which certainly has its charm. The people are ever so friendly and helpful. If they can't speak English – they try to help. If they can speak English, they'll do whatever they can to help. It's as if it's a chore for them not to help you. Brazilians really are the nicest people.

I was gutted when my camera broke and I entered an IT repair shop to try my luck. In my pathetic pigeon English, I showed them the fault and they disappeared into the back of the shop with the camera for five minutes. When they returned they'd fixed it and would not accept any payment from me at all.

It's a bit like that here and it was a joy to celebrate their victory over Cameroon to set up a mouthwatering clash with Chile. I'm desperarely trying to scramble tickets for that one. We drunk and danced the night away... well they can dance. They widely mocked my efforts.

Onto match day and with the 1pm kick off we made our way early to the Estadio Mineirao. We were heading to a bus stop when we encountered quite the wacky funster sporting dyed-red hair complete with mullet, St George's cross facepaint, an England flag draped around his neck and (the real double-take moment) a St George's flag contact lens. Anyhow, we boarded this bus instead and it slowly took us to the stadium.

Once there it was of course busy even with 2½ hours until kick off. We sat outside a small bar in the beautiful sunshine drinking cold beer in what was as good a location as possible for people-watching. Hoardes of England and Costa Rican fans (amongst others) marched up the hill all brimming with excitement. Some Costa Rica supporters taunting England with chants of "Bye Bye England", this enough to set the England fans congregated in the bar next to us into a frenzy and the songs and 'banter' began.

Now I'm not much of a Nationalist I readily admit. It's Everton over country for me. No doubt about it, so I really struggle to embrace the "Ing-er-land Till I Die" chants and so on. It's all a bit pathetic in my opinion. Most England fans out here have been great. A really good bunch but there's always a few to spoil it and the frenzied-fans in the bar next door did just that for my German girlfriend and I with chants of "Ten German Bombers In The Air". That's not nice. That's not necessary and insulted, on we moved into the stadium.

It was just as well we left when did, however, as the process of getting into the Mineirao is lengthy. Once inside it was fabulous. Luckily we were with largely Brazilian supporters and not with the zany 'Knights of the Realm' outfits etc, our view decent and the stadium excellent.

The World Cup anthem always brings a smile to my face, as do national anthems, though not so much England's. I'm not a great nationalist so can't get carried away with it and so didn't as it boomed around the stadium. The teams lined up, nice to see Ross Barkley representing Everton, Baines and Jagielka only on the bench though neither have exactly covered themselves in glory this World Cup if truth be told. "I hope England win so long as I don't have to see Sturridge's stupid dance," I told Katja as the game kicked off.

With England already eliminated and Costa Rica already group winners (who saw that one coming, by the way?), the game was pretty meaningless and it did have that friendly feel to it. Costa Rica created the first opening with Campbell lofting one just wide of the post via a deflection. It seemed Sturridge heard of my concerns as he proceeded to miss three great chances in the game (one following great initial work by Barkley, a Milner cross and then a Barkley knock-down) and a couple of half-chances to boot. I hope he can keep up that form in next seasons campaign. Sadly there is little else to report in the game.

Barkley was excellent in flashes though vacant for chunks though we know that can happen with Ross anyway. Wilshere was excellent. Quite how "Hendo" was preferred to he this World Cup, I don't know... but otherwise it was poor really. From what I understand, Hodgson is getting hammered back home but, with what he has available, I can't really see what he could have done differently. Are the young players really any better? Are they really good enough? No, not in my opinion. Not based on this performance anyway.

There was time for a few cameos before full time. I grimaced at the support afforded for Steven Gerrard when he was introduced... though chuckled when the applause for Rooney dwarfed that... Rooney did come close with a trademark lob but that was pretty much it. England going home... but we knew that anyway.

We waited around a while at full-time to let the crowd disperse and then went to relax by the beautiful lake rather than board the packed bus back into the city. An English fan began swimming in the lake and a Brazilian gent began yelling at him to get out. He was quite irate about it but then told us why... it is polluted. We got chatting to him for a while. "England were unlucky" he said "Gerrard did it again against Uruguay". We chuckled.

Speaking of Uruguay... we only heard of Suarez's latest Dracula moment when sharing a taxi back into the city with some really nice Geordie fellas. We saw it when eating in a restaurant later on and my word, it ain't pretty. I'm so sick of the whole Suarez circus... I just want him to disappear altogether.

We checked out the Fan Zone. England fans jumping up and down, singing and waving plastic chairs in the air... that was enough for us. England going home, I can't say I'm too disappointed.

Next stop for us – Sao Paulo for Belgium vs South Korea.

Anyone got a spare Fellaini wig they can ship out to us?

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Reader Comments (14)

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Richard Farrington
1 Posted 25/06/2014 at 20:20:27
Great report Paul, thanks for posting. Hope you have a great time time for the rest of your trip. Do another one soon.
Dick Fearon
2 Posted 25/06/2014 at 23:29:15
Please Paul keep em' coming.
Tommy Davis
3 Posted 26/06/2014 at 02:54:48
Excellent stuff Paul, thanks very much! I can usually tell within minutes if I am going to like a particular article from someone that has written about their experience............simple really, if I can sense what it feels like to be there, then it has me, so to speak, partly no doubt to following Everton all over the place many years ago!

Keep them coming indeed mate & I hope the both of you continue to have a superb time!!

David Ellis
4 Posted 26/06/2014 at 03:08:38
Thanks Paul - so different from my experience in Japan in 2002. Firstly I watched England win their opener against Argentina. No Everton players in the squad and all the locals were supporting David Beckham (and by extension England). The Japanese were terrified of England fans - they were force fed a diet of videos of England fans destroying towns in Spain and France. It was weird walking around and having complete strangers obviously afraid of you (getting out of lifts if you get in, crossing the road to avoid you etc). Needless to say there was no trouble in Japan.

Japan was great (the team won as well) but Brazil sounds more fun!

Eddie McBride
5 Posted 26/06/2014 at 04:06:57
Beautiful reflection on your obviously joyful time in Brazil. Hope you enjoy the rest of your stay, and hopefully you will share with us more highlights.
Paul Kellett
6 Posted 26/06/2014 at 09:19:07
Sounds like a good trip; great report... atmosphere so much better at non-England games in my opinion. I went to Ukraine to see England v Ukraine and there are always a minority that have to spoil it.

Glad to hear that the locals are friendly. So much press about the dangers of Brazil. I read somewhere that its safer in the favellas than the the more affluent parts of the city?

Enjoy rest of the trip.

One silver lining to our demise is no shop window for Barkley and Jags and Baines pick up no injuries. I too am blue before the St George's cross!

Mike Gaynes
7 Posted 26/06/2014 at 19:29:05
Your usual elegant touch, Paul. Delighted you're having so much fun. I'm red-white-and-and-blue with envy. Thanks for sharing.
James Stewart
8 Posted 26/06/2014 at 19:44:13
Great to see USA go through. On the same day rat man is out of the derby. Good times.
Chris Williamson
9 Posted 26/06/2014 at 23:48:12
An eloquent and dispassionate read. Wholly better than the trite peddled by the highly paid "journos" who pander to the squalid and embarrassing masses that constitute the ingerland supporters most have become.

I have an innate desire to love my country and my fellow countrymen, but it is constantly undermined by what they say (chant/grunt), do and value. And I sooooo wish we had something better for a national anthem than that dirge wishing a mythical deity to look after a Saxon overlord's sovereignty over what the celts originally found and had occupied by the Italians and stolen by the Normans. An anthem begging somebody to rule us ffs!

Give us something rousing, and something worth fighting for (in a football sense) – Jerusalem – but with words that make sense. FFS even the archers theme tune would be more rousing.

I feel much better now.

Aidan Wade
11 Posted 27/06/2014 at 12:42:44
Thanks Paul, always good to read your level headed, agenda-free match reports. Much better than a lot of the "professional" media reports scrabbling for controversy and drama.

Enjoy the next one, Hopefully Mirallas will get the nod again.

Andy Meighan
12 Posted 28/06/2014 at 14:16:33
Great stuff, Paul... but I’m afraid I can’t agree with you saying Barkley was excellent in spells. I thought he was poor and I’m a big fan. I thought he got dragged down by the rest of the turgid shite playing alongside him; nothing happened for him at all. Though it was not for the want of trying. Barkley actually looks to me a yard quicker in his head than the rest of the midfield... so maybe the likes of Wilshere, Milner and the pedestrian Lallana simply can’t read what he’s going to do.

That performance was dull and unimaginative as you’ll see and to think Hodgson came out and praised the players.... no wonder the national team is shite. And to think this octogenarian yes-man is running it for the next 2 years... at least I feel for anyone going to pay to watch that rubbish, I really do.

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