My first Brazilian football game was in June 2009 for the return of Adriano, to football, and his home city of Rio de Janeiro. Over 72,000 fans were present to witness Adriano's first game back since taking a break and cancelling his contract with Inter Milan earlier in 2009.
The spectacle was unbelieveable. As well as the homecoming of one of the city's mosr famous exports, it was also the day the stadium venues were to be announced by FIFA before kick off. As expected, Rio de Janeiro - in particular the Maracana - was announced to be the venue to host the Word Cup Final in 2014. The place was a party! Banners, balloons and ticker tape flying round, fireworks being let of relentlessly from the roof and a carnival on the pitch. The passion the Cariocas (name for Rio de Janeiro locals) have for the sport is unmatched.
As for the stadium itself, it's pretty basic, but does the job. Despite it just being a mass of concrete, it's very impressive nonetheless, and thats partly down to the design of the stadium. With the fact its spherical means its all enclosed which adds to the fantastic atmosphere of the stadium.
The food areas again are basic, but they do have vendors who walk round selling various goods such as peanuts, crisps, icecreams and non-alcoholic beer!
One thing which struck me as weird though, is that the walkway which encompasses the stadium on the inside is free to walk all the way around which means you can access most parts of the stadium. In league matches this isn't generally an issue as not many away fans travel due to the cost and distances involved, but in fierce local derby's, and even in the world cup, this could present itself as an issue.
That said, I'm sure it is due to go under redevelopment and maintenance before the world cup hits the country!
As a whole, the Maracana ticks all the boxes it needs to as a football stadium, but it's the fans in particular which make the place as amazing as it is. If you go to Rio, even if you're not that into football, definitely organise a trip to a game to see how colourful, in every sense, the fans are!