It is by far the most-watched sporting event on the planet – and when Germany and Argentina take to the pitch at Estadio Maracana, Rio de Janeiro, for the FIFA World Cup final, hundreds of millions of people around the globe will be glued to their TVs and computer screens.
To say the least, it’s been a colourful tournament, with some of the world’s most titanic teams – including 2010 champions Spain – eliminated early, Uruguay star player Luis Suarez expelled for an infamous bite, Brazilian hero Rodrigo Neymar out with a broken vertebra, a catastrophic semi-final loss for the host country, and dozens of players displaying dives so dramatic they should be up for Oscar contention.
There will no doubt be even more drama Sunday, when soccer fans across Vancouver pack venues from pubs to movie theatres to cheer on their favourite teams. So where do you watch?
Commercial Drive is the best bet, with cafes and pubs all along the street screening the match, among them St. Augustine’s (known for its local microbrews), Caffe Napoli and Caffe Roma (Italian favourites where fans can enjoy bevvies from espresso to beer and wine), the Falconetti’s patio (offering two 60-inch TVs plus sausage and beer), the Libra Room, and, with a whopping 14 TVs, Toby’s Pub and Grill.
Those who like their sports supersized can also take in the beautiful game on the big screen as they cool off with a cold beer or slushy margarita at the Rio. Or if you don’t want to miss out on the nice weather, head for Trout Lake Community Centre, where the city is showing the game on a 13-by-23-foot screen as part of “Soccer! Samba!! Celebration!!!” (It’s free, but reservations are required, and limited to 800.)
Rooting for the Argentina? You’re sure to find kindred spirits at the Blarney Stone on Carrall Street, at Wings on Granville, and along Commercial Drive. If you’re sporting Germany’s colours, head for the Pint Public House and Sports Bar at Abbott and Pender, where there is a borderline-ridiculous number of TVs – 70 in all – or the venerable Vancouver Alpen Club, a central hub for the German community where celebrations were at a fever pitch after the semi-final Tuesday.
“The atmosphere was just incredible. Everyone was so happy and on their chairs and cheering, and even after the game on the street and the sidewalk, everyone jumping. It was just amazing,” says Alpen Club assistant manager Patrick Buehrmann, who says he expects fans to line up hours before the club opens (groups of 15 or more can reserve), hoping to watch Germany cinch soccer’s top title for the first time in 24 years. “I think this is our year. And I will still have to work, but I going to sing and jump with the other guys here too.”
The FIFA World Cup final is at noon PT Sunday; the third-place match between Brazil and the Netherlands is at 1 p.m. Saturday.