The World Cup draw isn’t just about finding out who you will be playing in the tournament in six months time. Managers learn one of the most important things: where they will be playing.
The match venues are so crucial for teams in the group stage. Behind the scenes in the FA, workers are desperately trying to configure travel times, local weather, and where to base their team. Last time out, England players said “they were bored” in between matches during their time at their Rustenburg base in South Africa, so this year Hodgson’s side will be hoping that Greg Dyke and company find somewhere more suitable to their needs.
With the tournament being held in Brazil, the locations were even more important. If England were hosting the tournament, the only real differences between venues would be the travel links, and maybe some evening entertainment.
But in Brazil, everything is magnified. Suddenly teams could have to fly over a 1000 miles to reach their stadium, to a city reaching 30 degrees in the daytime. Suddenly the group you are in is arguably as important, possibly more important, than the teams that join you!
So with that in mind, lets have a look at where England will be playing, and the conditions they will experience.
Estadio Amazonia – Manaus
England’s first game of the World Cup will be against Italy in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Originally built in 1970 as the Estadio Vivaldao but demolished in 2009, the new ground was due to be finished by FIFA’s deadline by the end of December. However, it appears to be one of the many projects to be behind schedule. Costing the public £186million, 95% of the material from the old stadium will be reused, in this lookalike of Beijing’s Bird Nest stadium.
The Three Lions will kick off at 6pm local time, meaning fans that don’t fly out to watch the match will have to stay up until 11pm to see their country. The fans back home will be grateful that the kick off time has been moved from 2am English time in order for both sets of fans to watch the game at a reasonable(ish) time, however it may effect the players. With daytime temperatures averaging at 31 degrees, both sets of teams will be hoping that has dropped even slightly by the time they kick off. With a 40% chance of thunderstorms, and a likely 80% humidity, expect a fair few drinks breaks! Fortunately for Roy Hodgson, Italy won’t be too used to the climate either.
But with the fantastic support England get, expect every one of the 42,374 seats to be filled, no matter the weather. If you’re watching from home, then set your alarm clocks for a 11pm kick off on June 14th.
Arena de Sao Paulo – Sao Paulo
A stadium that has been in the news recently, and for all the wrong reasons, the future home of Corinthians is a complete new build ahead of the World Cup. However, at the end of November, the stadium was said to be “94% complete”, until a construction crane collapsed onto part of the stadium, killing two workers. The stadium is now set to be completed in February.
England play their second match of the tournament there against Uruguay, just five days after facing Italy. The stadium will hold 65, 807 fans during the tournament, with 20,000 of those seats temporarily placed specifically for the competition. A much cooler climate awaits Roy Hodgson after Manaus, as well as a more sociable kick off time for fans back home, 8pm to be exact. Uruguay are obviously used to playing in the South American climate and will be a huge threat for the Three Lions, but at least the temperatures aren’t too unknown for Hodgson’s side, unlike Manaus.
Estadio Mineirao – Belo Horizonte
England’s final group game, but hopefully not their last of the tournament, the Three Lions play Costa Rica at the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte, a stadium with a capacity of 62,547. The stadium is one of the most historic venues in Brazilian football, and has been greatly refurbished, with the stadium now more accessible, and the pitch lowered. This allowed for the running track to be removed, and more seats to be added.
Temperatures are likely to peak at 25 degrees, so a manageable temperature for the English side, who could potentially go into this game needing a win should things not go to plan against Italy or Uruguay. The match will kick off at 5pm English time, which is 1pm local time. The stadium normally asks the question ‘Atletico Mineiro or Cruzeiro?’ the two teams that call the Estadio Mineirao home, but on the 24th June it will be ‘Costa Rica or England?’