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Metrô São Cristóvão
They may not be the most fashionable of the Rio football teams, but Vasco da Gama certainly know a thing or two about creating an intimidating atmosphere in which to receive visiting opposition. Their São Januário stadium in Zona Norte is otherwise known as the Caldeirão – the Big Cauldron – for very good reason; with only a 25,000 capacity the fans are considerably closer to the pitch than at their neighbours’ grounds and determined to make the noise of triple their number.
It seems almost inconceivable that, with a capacity of just 15,000 at the time, Vasco’s stadium remained the largest in Brazil until 1940, particularly when you consider that in 1950 the nearby Maracanã staged a World Cup final watched by over 200,000 supporters inside. It will have its own taste of international sporting events in 2016, however, when the Olympic Rugby Sevens competition is held there, and the neo-colonial façade has now been protected as architecture of national interest.
As a team, Vasco, like so many in the Brazilian championship, have had a rollercoaster ride over recent years. Relegated for the first time in their history in 2008 on the last day of the season (causing one fan to climb on the roof and threaten to jump off), in 2011 they won the Copa do Brasil and led the league for much of the year. Watching a game here holds its own unique charms in comparison to the Stadium Rio or Maracanã, just be sensible about what colours you wear if you don’t adopt the iconic diagonal-striped shirt of the home side.
21 May 2013.