Endless problems at Brazil's World Cup stadiums have become a familiar storyline with one day to go before the tournament kicks off, but now those issues are extending beyond structural concerns and into the playing surfaces.
The head groundsman at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus has pointed out the obvious and admitted that the brown, spotty pitch is in terrible shape just three days before hosting one of the most anticipated group-stage matches between Italy and England.
From the Telegraph:
“Frankly, Manaus is in bad shape,” [head groundsman Carlos] Botella said. “We’ve started to implement an emergency plan to try to save the field and improve it as much as possible, but I don’t think it’ll be in good condition by the weekend."
Four days after that first match, Cameroon will play Croatia in Manaus, then four days after that, it will host the U.S. against Portugal and finally, three days later, Honduras against Switzerland. Manaus will not host any matches in the knockout stages, which is probably a blessing since the pitch will likely be nothing more than a giant hole in a ground at the end of the group stage. If Spain were playing here, Xavi would have ran to Zurich and knocked over all the papers in FIFA's headquarters already.
Manaus was already the host city most feared by World Cup teams given its extreme heat and far-flung placement in the middle of the rainforest. Add a terrible pitch to the mix and this place is going to be a nightmare for all teams subjected to it.
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