My friend Javier and I met in the USA and we struck up a bond at work based on our love of football, or soccer as they say back home. He and I would attend some local college games when we could and of course we were also spending a lot of time back then watching European leagues, as well as the Mexican league. Javier eventually moved back down to Mexico City, and that of course meant that we just had to go and catch a game at the iconic Azteca Stadium.
This was the stadium which saw the greatest World Cup semi final of all time, not to mention the famous hand of God moment, and I could way to go there. Eventually I got down to see Javier, and the game was like something I’ve never witnessed before.
When I first met Javier Burillo he did tell me that Mexican football was an experience like no others, and I quickly realized how right he was. First off the stadium was pretty far away from everything which meant that you really got that buzz of the game in and around the stadium. I have to be honest, although I never saw any problems or trouble amongst the fans, there was a real edginess to the whole affair, which of course added to the intensity of the game itself.
Buy This and That
My experience of Mexico has always been that everything is for sale and wherever there is a need for something, there is someone selling it. This however took things to a new level and both outside and inside the stadium was absolutely crazy in terms of people trying to sell stuff. Whether it was ponchos for the rain, football shirts, sweets, beer, trinkets, it was all here, right outside the stadium. Inside the stadium things got stranger, with pots of noodles on sale, popcorn, candy floss, more beer and cigarettes, it was quite the carnival.
There is nowhere near the level of razzmatazz that you get at a game in the US here, there was some announcements and the like, but no games, cheerleaders or circus-esque antics, this was very much about the football. The atmosphere was created by the fans, who kept singing and playing the drums throughout the entire 90 minute affair.
As much as Javier may not like me saying it, the quality here is far more like the US than the European leagues which I have watched for so long, and the level of tactics and strategy is miles off what they are doing in the likes of Spain and Germany. With this being said, the emphasis on attack rather than defense made for a far more interesting and exciting game, which of course finished 0-0, just my luck.
This is certainly an experience which I would recommend to anyone who is spending some time in Mexico, a great night out.