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If your team didn’t make the tournament (sorry Russia), or if you haven’t adopted a footballing nation, don’t worry: there’s plenty of World Cup action for newbs at these welcoming spots
Red Card The sexiest new sports bar in town will open at 7 a.m. and offer a great-looking brunch menu throughout the tournament. Multiple flatscreens mean there isn’t a bad seat in the house; food and drink cards are a cut above other soccer-centric venues. You’ll recognize Dutch fans by their clashing orange jerseys against the vibrant red bar.
G Sports Bar (1208 Granville St., 604-687-7684)When Liverpool plays in the Champions League, the decked-in-red crowd singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” transports you straight to Anfield. While a rendition or two of “God Save the Queen” is sure to spill out the doors during the tournament, this sports bar will also be a hot spot for Spanish and Mexican fans. Like other venues, G Sports Bar will be opening at 7 a.m. and will replay games throughout the day on multiple screens.
Donnelly Pub Group will be playing the games starting at 7 a.m. at a fleet of their venues. If you’re downtown, try Library Square Public House; in Gastown you can catch the action at The Lamplighter. Enjoy traditional English breakfast and a pint starting at 9 a.m. at The Calling.
Commercial Drive, lined with Italian and Portuguese establishments, remains the hotbed for football fans. Throughout Vancouver there are a host of other venues that have become de facto footy embassies for patriotic fans
The Drive will be pulsating with Azzurri pride as the defending champs try to repeat their 2006 result. Italy is arguably in the easiest pool with only New Zealand, Slovakia, and Paraguay standing in their way before the knockout stages. Hopes will run high in Little Italy. Choice spots to watch include Caffe Roma (1510 Commercial Dr., 604-215-8801) and Cafe Napoli (1670 Commercial Dr., 604-253-8224).
Nervous energy will resonate around the Portuguese Club of Vancouver (1144 Commercial Dr., 604-251-2042) and spill out onto the street as Os Navegadores navigate through this year’s group of death (Portuguese qualified by relying on a late-win streak and some bad results from Sweden). The game against Brazil on June 25 may see two of the world’s top-three ranked teams battle it out for a better position in the knockout stage (no disrespect to the Ivory Coast).
Libra Room (1608 Commercial Dr., 604-255-3787). This nighttime live music club (opening at 6:30 a.m.) is the adopted home for Brazil fans decked out in green and blue. Brazil’s coach Dunga will rely on the defensive strategy (that’s right, Brazil and defence in the same sentence) that yielded a win at last year’s tune-up tournament, the Confederations Cup. With a pool that includes Ivory Coast, Portugal, and North Korea, Brazil has a tough road ahead of it.
While most places will be opening at 7 a.m. to screen the second game of the day, Bouyzos welcomes the public at 5 a.m. for Greece’s first game against South Korea on June 12. The crowd, a sea of blue and white, will be pulling for Greece to reclaim the glory that brought them the Euro Cup in 2004.
There is a plethora of British pubs in town, but we feel that watching the Three Lions at Three Lions Cafe (Broadway & Ontario, 604 569-2233) is kind of a given. This Broadway gastropub will open at 7 a.m. everyday during the tournament so patrons can enjoy a full English brekkie while watching the team that dominated during their qualifying campaign under new coach Fabio Capello. With high hopes riding on Rooney, Gerrard, and the rest of the premiership boys going in, English supporters will be praying to avoid a penalty shootout in the knockout stages; too often English hearts have been broken from the 12 yard dot. England’s opening game against the U.S. at 11:15 a.m. on June 12 is a must-see.
Deutsches Haus at the Vancouver Alpine Club (4875 Victoria Dr., 604-874-3811). No Michael Ballack, no problem. German fans won’t miss their long-serving captain as long as the Bavarian beers are flowing in this beer hall screening the tournament on the largest HD screen in the city. The hall is licensed to hold up to 400 people, a given when Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger lead Die Mannschaft on the pitch. Duetsches Haus will show every game of the tournament while German food will be available for both breakfast and lunch during the live games and for dinner during nightly replays.
Watching Spain’s national team is a treat in itself, but Cafe Barcelona (1049 Granville St., 604-909-2223) will further entice fans of La Furia by opening its doors at 6:45 a.m. and offering churros with warm chocolate sauce. The most stacked team on the planet will prove why they are the best team in Europe (they have the Euro 2008 cup and a two year run of form to prove it) with their talisman Xavi pulling the strings. Cafe Barcelona will be open for the two morning games, but will not screen the afternoon one.
The green jerseys of El Tri fans will gather at La Casita, snacking on Mexican standards and drinking frosty cervezas. Mexico has the honour of getting the party started by playing the host South Africans in the first game of the tournament. They are in a difficult pool, though, with France looking good on paper and a Uruguayan side fronted by in-form striker Diego Forlan. Get here early for the June 22 game against the South Americans-sure to be intense.