Having seen two Argentinian games live, I was really keen to see a Brazilian match now I was back. The football season was in full swing and Sao Paulo is home to 4 of the countries biggest sides. My hostel was in Vila Madelena, so my local team was the famous Corinthians and they were the team I’d warmed to most when looking at Brazilian football (I’d just finished reading Alex Bellos’ book Futebol – fantastic look at the history of Brazilian football). They’re the people’s team and a bit like Boca, play in colours that make it easy for me to like them – white shirts, dark shorts (COYS!) – so I was already being drawn to them when I got an invite to go completely out of the blue…

A guy called Anselmo had noticed I was in town through the couchsurfing.org web site and sent me an email asking if I’d be interested in seeing a game. It turned out he had some guys staying with him who were keen and as a huge Corinthians fan, Anselmo wanted to get a group together to see a match. I obviously jumped at the chance and found myself waiting outside Estadio Municipal an hour before kick off waiting for my new friend.

In the end there was a group of about 10 of us and we bought tickets behind the goal and made our way into the ground. Corinthians currently play at a city owned municipal stadium as they’re own ground is to small to accommodate them. This is a huge issue for the club and their fans – a real dent in their pride and something fans of their big rivals make jokes about. But thankfully this is being addressed as part of Brazil’s 2014 World Cup plans – Corinthians are getting their own plush new stadium and from what I can tell they’re all quite excited about it. I can see why as their current ‘home’ is not the most impressive of football stadiums. It probably didn’t help that it was less than half full – the norm apparently for these early season Sao Paulo state championship games.

The game itself was the most impressive live football I’d seen since arriving in South America. There was a bit of a gulf in class – Gremio Prudente being one of Sao Paulo state’s smaller clubs – but Corinthian’s looked like a really tidy side and took complete control very early in the game. What was most impressive about them was the patient passing game they played. They looked to be a very well oiled unit and there were long spells where Gremio just couldn’t get the ball. On top of that when they did step it up they looked really dangerous and it took less than 10 minutes for them to go in front. By half time the game was over, Corinthians having opened up a 3 goal lead. In some ways this was a shame as it kind of killed the second period. Corinthians just cruised for 30 minutes or so before finally adding a 4th goal about 5 minutes before the end.

The experience and the atmosphere were nowhere near as intense and exhilarating as seeing Boca at La Bonbonara, but the football was really good and it was great to get an invite from a die hard Corinthians fan. Anselmo was a great guide – translating the songs for me and filling me in on Corinthians history. He was also really interested in English football having lived in London for a while, he’d adopted Fulham as his side having lived nearby (I never asked but it’s just occurred he might be using a bit of my logic too as they play in EXACTLY the same colours as Corinthians). It was a fantastic experience and I’d say with some pride now that when I’m in Brazil, I follow Corinthians.