You are currently viewing My experience attending an Argentina-Brazil match at Maracaña Stadium in Rio this fall (videos)

Argentina and Brazil; 2 of the countries with the strongest soccer (football) traditions. Maracanã Stadium; one of the most iconic locations. Lionel Messi; one of the most famous players. I knew attending this World Cup qualifying match this fall would be a unique experience and a perfect opportunity to see my first-ever soccer match.

What I certainly didn’t expect, though, is the massive riot in the stands that made headlines worldwide, with police violently using their nightsticks and some fans leaving on stretchers. All before the match even started.

Here is my experience since Messi and Argentina are in the news ahead of tonight’s Copa América semifinal match against Canada.


My trip to Brazil

I was looking for an excuse to visit Brazil for years. And since I love getting good deals, I grabbed a US$23 ticket to Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour in Rio de Janeiro, just because I know some people pay $1000 for that. I wanted the deal, even though I really don’t like that type of music.

One thing I honestly like even less… is soccer. But a few days after the Swifties’ show, I was visiting my Canadian friend who now lives in Rio. She casually mentioned that Brazil and Argentina were playing the next night. 

In Rio. 

View of a fully crowded Maracaña Stadium in Rio for the Argentina-Brazil match
Brazil-Argentina match (photo credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)


Getting to the match

In case you don’t know, these neighboring countries have a strong rivalry. I felt like attending the Argentina-Brazil duel was a must even if I had never been to any soccer match ever. Especially since Messi is another performer that people pay hundreds of dollars to see, even in the lowly MLS.

So I immediately decided to go; well, especially after I saw the tickets were just $44.

Ticket for the Argentina-Brazil match at Maracaña Stadium in Rio
My match ticket (photo credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)


I was genuinely surprised — as was my friend — that I could buy an official ticket online the day before. But it indeed worked.

So the next day, after dinner, I took the subway to Maracanã Stadium, home of the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2 FIFA World Cups.

View of the sign to get to the Argentina-Brazil match at Maracaña Stadium in Rio
Sign for Maracanã Stadium (photo credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)


Brazilians are world-renowned for being passionate fans, and I witnessed this first-hand at the concert a few days before. 

It sure is true for soccer as well.

View of the Maracaña Stadium in Rio for the Argentina-Brazil match.
View of Maracanã Stadium (photo credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)


Pre-match riot

I had barely settled into my spot after entering the stadium and immediately noticed everyone pointing at an actual riot unfolding right in front of me, behind the goal.



It wasn’t that bad, up until the police got involved and went wild with their nightsticks to stop the riot. 

It was quite a sight. 



An Argentinian player also almost got involved in the brawl.

It was a very interesting first impression of a soccer game. Very fitting. I knew that people here were very crazy about futebol/fútbol in these parts, but this was above and beyond.

Eventually, things got under control, and I saw at least a few fans taken away on stretchers. The yelling between Brazilians and Argentines persisted the whole game.



Ironically, I had spoken to another fan who was a frequent attendee (the ticket system was quite archaic as I had to pick them up in person that afternoon, and he was in line with me), and I had specifically asked him if I should expect any ruckus. He said that was just a stereotype and that things like that rarely happened anymore…

So much for that!

View of the armed forces at Maracaña Stadium in Rio during the Argentina-Brazil match.
SWAT team on the field (photo credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)


At this point, for a few long minutes, it seemed like the match would be completely canceled. Messi had led his team back to the locker room.

While waiting, news of the brawl had already been hitting headlines.

View of the headlines about the Argentina-Brazil match at the Maracaña Stadium in Rio.
Headlines about the riot (photo credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)


The match itself and the atmosphere

After a delay of about half an hour, the match finally kicked off.

I have really nothing positive to say about the “action” on the field. There were about 700 passes and barely any shots, exactly what my perception of soccer was.

But the atmosphere was nothing short of amazing.



With over 70,000 fans — it’s the largest stadium in Brazil and the 3rd-largest in South America — on their feet and singing/screaming the entire time, it really was an amazing experience.

The stadium was definitely full, so I’m not sure why I was able to get a last-minute ticket like I did. But I’m happy it worked out.

The atmosphere stayed somewhat tense throughout, too. 

View of the armed forces at Maracaña Stadium in Rio during the Argentina-Brazil match.
Police being a bit less alert (photo credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)


At least, for a while, the police got to turn around and watch the match instead of just monitoring the crowd!

At some point, some of them ran up the stairs to just a few rows from me with shotguns and all.



It’s because some Brazilian fans were throwing (many) things at the Argentinian section. Some of the opposing fans in blue just in front of me had several drinks poured on them throughout the match.



The friendly Brazilian next to me told me they usually have a better separation between visiting fan bases, and that’s what was to blame for the brawl. Let’s go with that, I guess.

Argentina scored the only goal, and all the Brazilians were very sad and mad.

View of fans showing the middle finger at the Argentina-Brazil match at the Maracaña Stadium in Rio.
Very animated fans (photo credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)


After the final whistle, the Argentinian players all came to celebrate their victory behind the goal, with their fans that had been previously in the brawl. 

Security was on high alert.



More fellows with shotguns came up a few rows from me to make sure everyone stayed civilized, and indeed, nothing else happened.

The walk back to the subway station was crowded, to say the least, but it was very efficient, with many trains waiting for us.

View of the crowd to get to the subway after the Argentina-Brazil match at the Maracaña Stadium in Rio.
Traffic jam at the subway entrance (photo credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)


Overall, it was a great night out and a perfect typical South American experience.

Even if you don’t enjoy the sport itself, attending a match just for the experience is definitely worth it. It’s only the 2nd time ever I watched a match from start to end — the other was on a big screen in the French Alps with passionate France fans during their win at the World Cup final in 2018 — and I’m glad I got to experience it.


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I went to Brazil and watched my first soccer match, a World Cup qualifier between Argentina and Brazil, at Maracanã Stadium, and it was wild. Before the game even started, there was a huge riot in the stands, with fans clashing with security. Once things settled down, the match went on with an amazing atmosphere, even though I didn’t find the game itself that exciting. Argentina ended up winning 1-0, and despite the crazy start, it was an unforgettable night.


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Featured image:  Argentina-Brazil match at Maracanã Stadium in Brazil (photo credit: Andrew D’Amours/Flytrippers)

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Andrew D'Amours

Andrew is the co-founder of Flytrippers. He is passionate about traveling the world but also, as a former management consultant, about the travel industry itself. He shares his experiences to help you save money on travel. As a very cost-conscious traveler, he loves finding deals and getting free travel thanks to travel rewards points... to help him visit every country in the world (current count: 71/193 Countries, 47/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

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