Passion, pressure and prayers carrying Brazil on seven steps to heaven

“It was as Atlético Mineiro trailed 2-0 at half-time in the second leg of last season’s Copa Libertadores final against Olimpia of Paraguay that one of their supporters, wired on a cocktail of nerves, frustration and booze, decided to pop out for a smoke. He needed it. The Mineirão in Belo Horizonte was a maelstrom. Tears and prayers were seemingly everywhere. Another fan further down the row bawled his eyes out as he bellowed to the heavens. It was as if he were having an argument with the Big Referee upstairs. Atlético had never previously won the Libertadores. Their hated rivals, Cruzeiro, were on course to take the Brazilian league title. Atlético had to win this game.” Guardian


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