Brazil has won the World Cup five times, but its relationship with the tournament has grown cooler in recent years.
The country hosted the 2014 tournament merely a year after huge street demonstrations targeting grafting and spending on stadiums. The economy had stopped growing, and the crackings were appearing in the success narrative of a country once heralded for blending economic growth and social progress.
After that, everything seemed to go wrong: a multi-billion dollar grafting scandal; a Zika epidemic; rising violent crime and an army takeover of crumbling security services in Rio de Janeiro; the impeachment of leftist chairwoman Dilma Rousseff, and her replacing by her even less popular vice-president, the rightwinger Michel Temer.
This time interest built up even more slowly than four years ago, with some Brazilians even supporting archrivals Argentina. But the team devoted some reason for hope under coach-and-four Adenor Bacchi, known as Tite, who appeared to provide the managerial expertise his country’s notoriously corrupted and widely-despised political leaders lack.
We always expect to win the cup, said Tadeu Prieto, 32, an IT technician.
Even so, the crowd spilling down the steps in front of the big screen on Benjamin Constant street was about half the size of four years ago, when games were also shown here.
Brazils deepening political divides were on demonstrate too. Engineer Camila Leonio, 33, wore a blue Brazil shirt because the iconic yellow team shirts were adopted by rightwing demonstrators calling for Rousseffs exit, and the countrys flag was waved by those calling for military intervention during Mays national truck strike.
Regina Horge, 32, a kitchen deputy, had like many leftists gone one step further and wore a red Brazil shirt with a lapel flag. People are not aroused. The 7-1 was incorrect and the social issue is very bad, she said.
At half time, with Brazil two-nil down, the crowd held onto expectations. I am very hopeful, said Joelma Saldanha, 38, a laboratory technician wearing a T-shirt whose motto, loosely translated, read: Its just a game, your ass. She explained: Its not just a game. Its Brazil, playing for a better world.
And yet, things maintained going wrong. During national anthems before kick-off, the big screen failed, forcing people to crowd around a small television set balanced on a nearby speaker – an emblematic moment for a broken country trying to work out how to fix itself.
It did not start working again until the second half, just as Brazil started playing properly.
After the final whistling, people milled around the streets. Yet there was no sense of the desperation some Brazilians remember from past failures, like 1982 when Brazils most creative squad was eliminated by Italy.
Julia Mayer, 32, sat on a stool scrolling through her cellphone messages. Now Brazil has to worry about other things like health and educational. The struggle continues, she said.
On a nearby street music was already booming from a house party and four females discussed the game as they strolled by. For Brazil to have won this cup would have been an shame. The last cup destroyed our country, said Estella Resende, 42, a kitchen assistant.
And then like Brazil the women moved on.