After Estudiantes made their comeback from 1-0 down to seal the Copa Libertadores with a 2-1 victory (mostly thanks to Veron, who was awesome on the night), the whole colour of Belo Horizonte changed. All shouts of ‘zeiro’ had been replaced with ‘galo (Atletico´s nickname)‘, blue scarves and flags had been replaced with black and white and I was no longer able to see the southern cross anymore (Cruzeiro means southern cross in Portuguese, and this emblem was everywhere before the game). Plus, the streets were filled with Brazilians wearing bald wigs, goatee beards and Estudiantes shirts, all in the name of Veron; Estudiantes´ hero from the previous night. Blue tombstones lined the streets.
I had been to the Mineiraõ before the Cruzeiro game to get a feel of the atmosphere and was now returning for the Atletico-Saõ Paulo game. The atmosphere was almost identical. If anything, the Atletico fans were more ebullient! It was if they had won the Libertadores.
Atletico´s nickname ´galo´means rooster, and boy do they love that rooster. He came running out before the game, smacked his rooster flag in the middle of the pitch and started to boogie. Understandably, the crowd went nuts! Everything the rooster did was received with fever pitch hollers. He really knows how to get the crowd going.
When the game started, it took Atletico 1 minute to open the scoring. They dominated and should have won by much more than the 2-o it ended up, but the fans wouldn´t have cared what the score was, this was their chance to party. Their neighbours had been cruelly denied a trophy and they were out to enjoy it.
Instead of watching Cruzeiro lose the Libertadores final and 300 Reais from my own pocket, I got to go to a better party with what for me, are the real football fans in Belo Horizonte, and only spend 5 Reais. I think I got the better deal, and the rooster most definitely seals it!