BRAZIL BEAT: On match day, more than football

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Chile soccer fans, some wearing a representation of their country's national flag, wait on a subway platform for a passenger car, on their way to Itaquerao Stadium, to see the World Cup group B match against the Netherlands in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Monday, June 23, 2014. Both teams having already qualified for the round of 16, Monday's match will decide which of them wins Group B. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

SAO PAULO (AP) — Hours before Brazil's match Monday, several men set up on either side of enormous Avenida Paulista to pass out their booklets.

"Vitoria 2014," written in 13 languages, reminds everyone their Christian beliefs are not about football victories at all.

The pamphlet quoted Bible verses and referenced the Olympics in ancient Greece.

— By Janie McCauley —



FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — On Brazil's waterfront, getting people's attention at the World Cup is hard work.

Fans visiting Fortaleza have to work their way past cotton candy sellers, nearly life-sized cut-out figures of football stars, inline skaters, outdoor projectors set up by evangelical Christian groups, even children's parties on rolling trains with dancers dressed as Spider-Man and Peppa Pig.

But a circus performing in the city may have figured out a way to top them all: It's using a small airplane, fitted with loudspeakers to tout "tonight's grand spectacle."

The circus puts on nightly performances, featuring clowns, acrobats, high-wire acts, and antics with performers in two-man zebra costumes.

Locals pay little notice to the blue promotion plane that buzzes the beach every afternoon, blaring out music and its message in Portuguese — in a city that appears to have a fairly lax attitude to air transport.

Police helicopters hover low over Fortaleza's Arena Castelao on match days, and some of the upscale high-rise buildings on the seafront have helipads to dodge the occasional heavy traffic.

— By Derek Gatopoulos —



SAO PAULO (AP) — Fans sporting Chile's red and the Netherlands' orange streamed into Itaquerao Stadium on Monday. But it was another color they had on their minds: yellow.

With both teams having already comfortably advanced to the next round, even the most loyal fans were less interested in the opponent of the day but rather who they would face next. The consensus? Avoid host Brazil at any cost.

Even though Brazil has not impressed thus far, its vast experience and home field advantage is something to fear, said Jeroen Klink, a 51-year-old Dutch fan wearing the No. 10 jersey of star midfielder Wesley Sneijder.

"Brazil would be really tough. They are still growing into the tournament," he said. "There is lots of pressure to avoid Brazil."

The second-place team will meet the winner of Group A — probably the host nation, depending on its result against Cameroon — with the group winner likely facing an easier time against either Croatia or Mexico. A smoother path to the later stages of the tournament looms as well.

While a draw would be enough for the Dutch, Chile has to win to finish on top. Its fans are feeling even more pressure.

"We don't want to play Brazil," said Enrique Lanzerini, 35, from Santiago. "Chile always loses to Brazil. Anyone else Chile can beat, but not Brazil. It's psychological."

Amid the sea of red and orange, a spattering of yellow jerseys could also be seen in the stands — hometown fans on hand to enjoy the showdown and scope out their next opponent.

Lais Romao, a 61-year-old Brazilians from Americana, said he figured most of the locals would be pulling for the orange.

"Holland is better than Chile, but in football anything can happen," he said. "Holland has eliminated us before, so I prefer Chile — they are afraid to play us."

— By Aron Heller —


Associated Press reporters will be filing dispatches about happenings in and around Brazil during the 2014 World Cup. Follow AP journalists covering the World Cup on Twitter: