Christopher Hunt – Sports Illustrated, 9/13/2012
On the belvedere atop Corcovado mountain, tourists crowd the railings for a God’s-eye view of the world’s most beautiful cityscape. Standing under one Rio icon, the open-armed statue of Christ the Redeemer, they aim their phone cameras at another: Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain), the granite outcropping that resembles a giant cat crouching at the edge of Guanabara Bay.
Off to the left, though, is a Rio landmark of equal significance, at least to futebol fans: Maracanã, the largest stadium in Brazil and the site of the 2014 World Cup final.
Even from as far away as Corcovado you can see the cranes poking out of Maracanã’s huge oval. The stadium, like many others around Brazil, is closed for renovations to meet FIFA specifications for the quadrennial blowout of the world’s most popular sport. Maracanã, which hosted the 1950 World Cup final, is being refurbished not only for the 2014 World Cup but also for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.