The world famous Maracanã stadium was renovated between 2010 - 2013 in preperation for the World Cup in Brazil and currently holds 78,836 spectators, making it the largest stadium in Brazil and the second in South America, after Estadio Monumental in Peru. The World Cup Final was held at the newly opened venue in 2014, hosting Germany and Argentina and ending in a 1-0 victory to Germany in Extra time.
Not only is the Marcanã home to national football, but it's also the home of 3 of Rio's big domestic teams - Flamengo, Botafogo and Vasco de Gama.
Brazilian football, has the ability to conjure up in one’s mind an essence of style, verve, of carnival, of rhythm, of unadulterated joy and freedom. For any kid watching football growing up, seeing the "Canaries" conjure up magical moments of skill and score outrageuous goals in their bright yellow shirts, all to the sound of the beating samba drums, is something that stays in the mind forever.
Futebol is so deeply, so passionately interwoven into the fabric of Brazilian culture that the two entities are inextricably linked, they define each other and share an identity, an instantly recognisable global image.
In the 121 years since the beautiful game arrived in Brazil, this most socially vibrant of Latin American countries has peerlessly adapted and excelled at the game, transforming football into a way for people to express themselves, an art form and a way of forming social relationships.
Five World Cup triumphs (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002) have justifiably given Brazil the status as the greatest nation ever to have taken to a football field and made Brazilian sides throughout modern history the benchmark for footballing excellence.
Nowadays the wealth of money coming from European football has drained the Brazilian league of it's best talent, with many young players leaving by the time they're 18. This has made for a league somewhat lacking in quality, but if you pick a local derby to go to the atmosphere will more than make up for the often surprisingly poor games.
The Maracanã is located toward the east of about 5 kilometres from west of downtown Rio. It lies about 12 kilometres north of the Copacabana and Ipanema beach areas.
The stadium can be easily accessed by metro. Maracanã station is a stop on metro line 2, which can be boarded in downtown Rio or the Flamengo and Botafogo areas. It can also be reached with a transfer from line 1, which runs from the Copacabana and Ipanema areas. (General Osório lies in the middle of both)
Address: Rua Professor Eurico Rabelo, s/nº, portão 18, Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro
Getting tickets for almost any domestic game as a relatively easy experience. Even the biggest games are very rarely sold out.
An option a lot of tourists choose to take is to go on an organised tour. This is a convenient and safe option and relatively cheap. You will find most hostels and hotels will happily arrange these for you and recommend a good company to go with. Prices are normally around 150R.
It's always adviseable to go to the game with a local, someone who know where to go and where not to go. You can buy tickets online at www.futebolcard.com or purchase them outside the stadium on matchday. You will normally see quite a long queue for them but the line goes down suprisingly quickly and entrance to the stadium itself is very easy and normally well organised. Another option is to buy tickets from one of the hawkers you'll see around the ground - this is safe enough and is usually just people selling discount tickets with a bit of profit for themselves.
Tickets prices vary depending on which game it is but usually cost between 30R and 100R. At Inside Rio we like the experience of getting tickets in the main fan section and getting involved in the chanting and singing, but if you're after a more relaxed experience or going with family - it's best to sit in the sides.
if possible, try and go to a local derby - Any two teams from Rio out of Flamengo, Botafogo and Vasco de Gama against eachother. The stadium will be much busier and the atmosphere will be electric. Other games can end up with a huge majority of supporters from one side and a much flatter atmosphere.
In Brazil they have a national championship, as well as a state one. From May through December, the Brazilian Championship takes place, where top teams from different states compete to determine a national champion.
Top finishers in the national tournament earn berths in the next year’s Libertadores Cup and South American Cup, two continental tournaments that run concurrently with parts of the state and national seasons.
From 2014, Rio de Janeiro’s Futebol State Championship has changed format to just one tournament (previously 2 seperate ones), now called the Carioca Cup (Campeonato Carioca), which determines the champion of the Rio de Janeiro and runs from January through to May. All 26 Brazilian states have their own style of state tournament that take place at the same time and games are usually played on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays across the country.
All this means that there isn’t a big off season for the best teams, apart from a short breather between late December and early January. Meaning you will almost always find a game to go to. Find the latest fixtures here
There are four major teams in Rio de Janeiro:
Flamengo - Flamengo have the largest number of fans in Brazil and are considered the team of “the people.”
Botafogo - The black and white stripes of Botafogo, Flamengos arch rivals, have less supporters but are steeped in tradition.
Fluminense - Playing in green, red and white, known as the Tricolors, is the traditional club of the wealthier. Their supporters are known as the "Millionaires"
Vasco de Gama - The team of the Portuguese.
Football in Brazil has controlled a lot of the hooligan aspects it used to be plagued with. Nowadays, especially games at the Maracanã, have a huge security presence and are largely trouble free. You can go to a game without worrying about your safety, as long as you take the normal precautions and use common-sense.
TOP TIP: if possible, try and go to a local derby - Any two teams from Rio out of Flamengo, Botafogo, Fluminense and Vasco de Gama against eachother. The stadium will be much busier and the atmosphere will be electric. Other games can end up with a huge majority of supporters from one side and a much flatter atmosphere.