SAO PAULO (AP) — Sao Paulo's typically raucous Avenida Paulista was particularly subdued Saturday morning.
"I'm very nervous," said Munuel Freitas, a 21-year-old Brazilian quietly standing outside a major shopping center adorned with a giant flag of Brazil. "Chile is not an easy team. It is going to be difficult."
All along the thoroughfare there were equally jittery Brazilians preparing to watch their country's first World Cup knockout game. As kickoff time approached, the streets emptied as rabid fans flocked to bars, restaurants — and mostly the sanctuary of their own homes. Aside from the Elvis impersonator belting out drawled hits in a Brazilian-themed jumpsuit, all was quiet as pedestrians seemed to be consumed by their own thoughts.
"I want them to win, of course, but I don't trust our team," said Daniela Arce, 38, wearing the almost mandatory yellow Brazil team jersey. "They think they are all stars, and we think we are the greatest, and we have to win because we are home. But most of the World Cups we did not win."
She likened the political atmosphere around the games to that at the 1970 tournament, when a Brazil title lifted the spirit of a country in the middle of a military dictatorship. Should Brazil lose, many fear that the wide scale protests that accompanied the heavily criticized preparations will resume.
— By Aron Heller — www.twitter.com/aronhellerap
BRACING FOR PROTESTS
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — Banks and car dealerships near the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte had their windows boarded up in fear of protests before Brazil's match against Chile in the second round of the World Cup on Saturday.
Owners took the precautionary measure because several demonstrations against the billions of dollars spent on the World Cup were scheduled for the morning of the match in the southeastern city. Some banks near downtown, where protests have happened in the past, also had their facades boarded up overnight.
Belo Horizonte was home to some of the most violent protests during last year's Confederations Cup, the World Cup warm-up tournament in Brazil. Demonstrators trying to get near the stadium clashed with police, who had to use tear gas and rubber bullets to contain the several thousand protesters. Many banks and car dealerships in the area were destroyed.
— By Tales Azzoni — www.twitter.com/tazzoni
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: https://twitter.com/AP_Sports/world-cup-2014