Brazil back at Maracanã after 6 years for Copa América final

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — Brazil’s home is Maracanã Stadium. Brazil is going home on Sunday for the first time in six years.

The Maracanã will stage the Copa América final, where Brazil will play for a 10th title against underdogs Peru, which beat defending champions Chile 3-0 on Wednesday.

The final will mark the first match for many Brazil players at the 87,000-seat Rio de Janeiro stadium, which has featured two World Cup finals and the Rio de Janeiro Olympic soccer finals among many noteworthy matches.

Even Brazil’s Tite has not coached at the Maracanã since he took the job in 2016.

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“Now I will truly become the coach of the national team,” Tite jokingly said at Mineirão Stadium after Brazil beat Argentina 2-0 in the semifinals.

“Players always say that you only become a footballer if you played at the Maracanã. It is the same thing for the coach.”

The last Brazil match at the stadium was in June 2013, when the Seleção routed then-world and European champion Spain 3-0 in the Confederations Cup final.

Brazilian fans are expected to recreate that electric atmosphere and back the team to its first Copa América title since 2007.

Brazil was initially scheduled to end its most recent World Cup qualifying campaign at the Maracanã. But the match against Chile in October 2017 was moved to São Paulo’s Allianz Parque because of legal problems involving the Maracanã.

Corruption scandals and frequent changes in the administration stained the stadium that was revamped for the 2014 World Cup. Brazil would have played at its Rio home if it had reached the final, but losing to Germany 7-1 in the semifinals delayed its return.

The Maracanã has not been used for Brazil friendlies in years. In recent times, only the country’s Olympic team has played there, including in the final of the 2016 Rio Games.

Tite was not in charge of that young team, but defender Marquinhos and striker Gabriel Jesus were present to win the gold medal after a penalty shootout against Germany.

The Maracanã was also where Brazil last won a home Copa América in 1989. Striker Romário scored the only goal in a win against Uruguay in front of more than 132,000 fans. Back then, stadium tickets were cheap and seats were close to the pitch.

Organizers said tickets for Sunday’s match are already sold out. The cheapest ticket cost about $60 and the most expensive was $200. Since early Wednesday, touts have been selling tickets for up to $400 each on websites and social media channels.

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