Our first in-person match was maybe one of my favorites still, even while we were still adjusting to the new time and new schedule.
France v Panama was at the home of the Sydney Roosters, the very new Allianz Stadium. We were able to get there fairly easily via public transit, and found it to be one of the more accessible stadiums we’ve encountered thus far. Finding our seats was easy enough and we’d soon find we were surrounded by France fans of all ages shouting “ALLEZ LES BLEUS” from kickoff to the final whistle.
While the final score was indicative of the French team’s dominance in the match, what it didn’t show was the last 15-20 mins where Panama had decided to not go quietly into the Australian night, but rather fight to the end. Awarded a penalty in the 64th minute and scored, Panama persisted to an open-play goal in the 87th to bring the score to 5-3, still to France’s favor, but a great showing for Panama. Even better the crowd turned entirely into Panama fans (minus the family behind us maybe) and began booing every time France touched the ball and cheering for every positive touch from the Panamanians.
France put a period on the end of the match with a stoppage time goal, but Panama danced with their fans and family, showing everyone what that support and even that bit of success really meant.
We crashed out of the stadium and back to bed after a long night and with Panama in our hearts and “ALLEZ LES BLEUS” still ringing in our ears.
The next day we took some time to breathe away from the football and explore the Botanic Garden and it’s neighbor, the grand Sydney Opera House.
It was good to get a little break from the action and do some sightseeing, but of course we couldn’t help but run into friends from the States by the Opera House because the world really is that small somehow 💚
We strolled along the harbor a bit longer, had a little waterside beverage, and then made our way back to the airbnb to watch the last of the group stage matches, and begin hatching a very silly plan for the days to follow.