Spirits high as Brazilian fans toast Neymar and Co

Samba beat in Dublin as hundreds of fans savour the last 16 victory over Mexico

Brazilian fans in in good voice watching  the World Cup game against Mexico in Three Spirits Bar & Grill, in Capel Street, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Brazilian fans in in good voice watching the World Cup game against Mexico in Three Spirits Bar & Grill, in Capel Street, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

In Brazil, it is a toss-up who is the more famous: the actress Bruna Marquezine or her boyfriend Neymar, who despite being a professional athlete appears just as determined to deliver theatrics.

At the Three Spirits Bar in Dublin, a phalanx of yellow jerseys sits around a giant screen where their star is writhing in agony, real or feigned, after being stamped on by an opponent. They are not overly upset; in fact they are smiling and laughing at the replays.

“Sometimes no one touches him but he is ‘oh!”,” explains Mateus Catarino (22), a fan from Curitiba in the south of Brazil, gesturing someone pretending to get hurt. “We say that he is learning to be an actor because his girlfriend is an actress.”

It is a common reproach. They all believe Neymar to be a potentially great player in the country’s fabled history of great players, but they believe too that he still has to show it at the World Cup.

“I don’t like Neymar because he is very actress,” says Priscila Marques from San Paolo, a determined point through broken English. Her two friends laugh in agreement.

Still, it is a nice position to be in, to ridicule your star player, safe in the assumption that at any moment he might produce some magic, as he does. For all the good natured jibing, there is an ice cold passion.

The Three Spirits, says Catarino, is a place where they can “feel that we are in Brazil”. There are yellow jerseys everywhere, women shrouded in the Auriverde, local drinks and traditional Brazilian food, coxinha and pastel, served from a storage compartment on top of the bar.

There is an incongruous string of Irish tricolours, the only hint on a hot summer’s evening with its singing vuvuzelas, Portuguese television commentary and conversations, that this is a small corner of Dublin.

In spite of his gentle critics, Neymar thumps the ball home on 51 minutes and the yellow jerseys rise from every conceivable floor space, smothering the room in flailing arms.

They sing: “Eu sou Brasileiro, com musto orgulho, com musto amor” , which very loosely translated means, “I am Brazilian, with much pride and love”.

“Everyone is looking for another Brazilian to watch it together,” says Gesika Lamussy from Goias.

Good vibe

“It’s because it is a good vibe, you know, when we are together the feeling is so great; when everyone can sing the national anthem.”

There is a cheer of anguished relief when the Brazilian goalkeeper tips a swinging shot over the bar, roars of approval when a player skips past a defender with Brazilian showmanship. And yet they are respectful too.

“I was expecting it to be more hard for us because the Mexican team is good and Brazil is not at the best moment now,” says Nathias Santanna (28) from Brasilia. “Neymar is doing almost 90 per cent of what he can do.”

“Of course we expected to win against Mexico, ” says Othon Sarmanho (25) from Balem, “but we were a little bit afraid.”

After 88 minutes and a second goal though, the game is effectively over. When the whistle blows, hundreds of yellow shirts file out of the bar and into the sunshine.

Paula Kenyon, a Brazilian psychologist visiting from the US, stays behind to watch a band setting up in front of the big screen.

“We cannot live without soccer. We grow up with soccer,” she says, explaining eloquently and sensitively that even where there are troubles in Brazilian life, there is always football.

“I just think it’s what keeps people smiling,” she says, and dances off to the Samba drums.