Blue day for Brazil’s yellow-shirted fans after shock World Cup exit

Supporters back home left stunned as Seleçao’s bid for a sixth world title ends in penalty shootout loss to Croatia

It’s not been a good few weeks for Brazilians in yellow football shirts.

Six weeks ago, nationalist supporters of the far-right President Jair Bolsonaro had to swallow a painful defeat as his leftist rival Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva won a bitter presidential election.

On Friday, the crowds who donned the famous yellow jersey to watch their team in the World Cup quarter-finals were dealing with another reverse, having watched Brazil get dumped out of the tournament by Croatia.

“This wasn’t what we expected,” said Erico Vieira, a 27-year-old who watched the match with friends and family in a São Paulo bar.

“We played well but we couldn’t finish. It was just one of those things. You have to put it down to luck.”

Many other fans were not as generous. Brazil took the lead in the 105th minute of extra-time but were unable to defend their lead. Bruno Petković scored an equaliser with three minutes of extra-time remaining and then Brazil missed two of their penalties in the shootout.

“How can you lose a goal on the counter-attack with … minutes remaining in extra-time?” asked an incredulous Paulo Vinícius Coelho in his column after the game, summing up the thoughts of many fans who believed Brazil had done enough to qualify.

It was the fifth time in a row that Brazil have fallen to European opposition in the knockout stages of the World Cup and their drought will now stand at 24 years, the joint longest since they won the first of their five trophies in 1958.

Brazil came to Qatar as favourites to lift the title for a record sixth time but were inconsistent throughout, winning three of their first four games but losing to Cameroon, their first ever World Cup defeat to an African nation.

Friday’s reverse was particularly tough to take for players such as the 30-year-old former captain Casemiro.

“All defeats are painful, especially when you have a goal and a dream,” the Manchester United midfielder said after the final whistle. “So it’s difficult, isn’t it? It’s difficult to find words. All we can do is keep our heads up, life goes on.”

Supporters of all ages had packed bars and restaurants to watch a game that kicked off at noon in most of Brazil. Most companies closed early or gave employees time off to watch the match.

The game was tense and Brazil failed to convince but Neymar’s brilliant late goal led to wild celebrations, at least for a few moments. There were still 15 minutes to go but maybe too many people, on and off the pitch, thought the hard work was done. Some people paid their bills and left. They thought it was all over.

“They blew it,” said the yellow-shirted Fabiano Núñez, a Colombian national, now resident in Brazil. “It was all under control and they took their eye off the ball. It’s a bitter pill to swallow.”

Argentina are now the last South American team in the tournament, with a quarter-final against the Netherlands deciding their fate later on Friday evening.

Some Brazilians will want their hermanos to progress and win the title for Lionel Messi, a player who is as admired outside Argentina as he is at home.

Messi has won every honour available to him bar the World Cup and a large number of Brazilians would like him to add the world title to his dazzling array of silverware.

Not barman Tiago Sousa Costa.

The 27-year-old watched the Brazil match before service in Le Jazz, a popular São Paulo restaurant.

“We were so shaken,” he said of the 16 colleagues who had gathered. “But do I want Argentina to win? Are you mad? I want Cristiano Ronaldo. There’s Portuguese blood in these veins.”


Andrew Downie in São Paulo

The GuardianTramp

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