Brazil's south plays host to the Socceroos
You may wish to pack light if you’re a Socceroos fan travelling to Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, after Australia was drawn in the dreaded ‘Group of Death’. The Socceroos have been grouped alongside defending world champion Spain, 2010 runners-up The Netherlands and South American hotshots Chile in the toughest World Cup group imaginable.
Any chance Australia has of extending its holiday beyond the group stage will rely on causing three of the biggest upsets in recent football history, but at least Socceroos fans won’t be forced to sweat it out in the sticky confines of the Amazon jungle. The south-western cities of Cuiabá, Porto Alegre and Curitiba will host Australia’s fixtures at the world’s biggest sporting event.
The heart of South America
It could well be time to crack out the atlas, with the Socceroos set to kick off their World Cup campaign against Chile in Cuiabá. This busy provincial town is located in the direct centre of South America and it will host a total of four World Cup games in its brand new 42,000-capacity Arena Pantanal.
Though not exactly a tourism hotspot, Cuiabá does at least offer visitors a taste of Brazil the way it once was. Until recently it was common to see cowboys stroll down the main street in their rawhide boots and mud-stained clothes, though the city’s rapid modernisation means you’re more likely to find a delicious steakhouse and trendy bar these days.
The Socceroos will play Chile at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá on June 13.
Setting sails for the south
Socceroos fans can bank on a trip to the big smoke when coach Ange Postecoglou’s side takes on European powerhouse The Netherlands at the Estádio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre. The city is the southernmost capital in the country and the 10th most populous city in Brazil overall, making it a bold, bustling host of World Cup fixtures.
Renowned for its strong European heritage and high-quality standard of living, Porto Alegre is also known for its close ties to the traditional gaucho community which once took up arms in defence of the Rio Grande do Sul. They’re much more welcoming on the pampas these days, ensuring you’ll have no trouble making friends in the deep south of Brazil.
The Socceroos will play The Netherlands at the Estádio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre on June 18.
Cool off in Curitiba
Before the World Cup draw was made in Bahia in the early hours of December 7 (AEDT), there were fears the Socceroos could be forced to sweat it out in the Amazonian heat of Manaus. Instead Australia’s third and final group stage game will take place in Curitiba against the reigning World Cup holders and kings of tiki-taka football, Spain.
Located close to the spectacular Iguaçu Falls in one of the most prosperous parts of Brazil, Curitiba enjoys a cool wintertime climate and boasts plenty of historic sites. It’s also a hotbed of Brazilian football, ensuring a raucous atmosphere awaits when the Socceroos run out to test themselves against the world’s best.
The Socceroos will play Spain at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba on June 23.