By taxi to Lusail for Argentina vs Saudi Arabia. Closed roads make for a laborious fifteen minutes of driving in circles. “Welcome to Qatar,” says my patient taxi driver. We reach what I think is the closest parking lot to the stadium. As for the stadium is nowhere to be seen. Not a good start.
A long walk later, I am among a number of Saudi supporters who support Newcastle who may not recognize Darren Peacock in a line-up. Closer to the stadium it suddenly feels like a World Cup. Argentinian fans with tens on their backs are buzzing with anticipation, a Moroccan band sings that way, suggesting they have twice as many notes as Western musicians.
Kick-off in a bustling stadium with a majority of colors, only the many pockets of empty seats adding to the buzz. I get carried away and watch Lionel Messi exclusively for 10 minutes as a kind of meditation exercise. His seedy passivity calms my heartbeat.
A long run through Doha for the 4pm kick off at Education City so I leave Lusail at half time with the heavy favorites 1-0 up. Nothing to see here.