Oxford MailSupporters cheer on their nations as the World Cup hots up (From Oxford Mail)

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Tournament brings its highs and lows

Oxford Mail: Michael Maia Schlussel from Brazil who works in Oxford Michael Maia Schlussel from Brazil who works in Oxford

AFTER weeks of exciting build-up, the World Cup has well and truly begun with the first round of group fixtures completed.

For the football fans from across the world who call Oxfordshire home, it has been a mixture of highs and lows following their teams.

Brazilian Michael Maia Schlussel, 35, from Cowley, below, said he wished he was back in his home city Rio de Janeiro watching the games after witnessing his team’s 3-1 win over Croatia and a 0-0 draw with Mexico.

He had been home until three weeks before the tournament began last Thursday but had to come back to Oxford after starting a new job as a medical statistician at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in Headington.

Mr Schlussel has been watching games with his 33-year-old Portugese girlfriend Joana Silva, who he said blamed the referee for her country’s 4-0 defeat by Germany.

He said: “It was a very special occasion because it’s the first time the World Cup has been held in Brazil since I was born so I was quite impressed to see the crowd singing the national anthem and the way the players looked very emotionally involved.

“Now for the first time I wish I was there.

“Portugal are my second team at the World Cup and me and Joana are very supportive of each other -– it would be great if we both did well.”

Italian Massimo Tengalia, manager of Eurobar in George Street, said his bar was lively for Italy’s 2-1 win over England.

He said: “We had more than 200 people inside and there was a really great atmosphere. It was like being in a stadium but it was all friendly and there was no trouble.

“I am biased so I would say we deserved to win but I think both England and Italy will go through.”

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Mark Greenwood, who works for Didcot-based Christian missionary society BMS World Mission, has been living in Brazil for 21 years with wife Suzanna and England-supporting children Edward, 17, and Anna, 14.

He said the demonstrations that marred tournament preparations have put a dampener on the tournament but said the country still “shuts down” for Brazil games.

Mr Greenwood, 47, said: “People are enjoying the matches but there’s still a lot of ambiguous feeling towards the FIFA machine.

“Normally the World Cup is a huge party for everyone – like having a jubilee every four years with street parties and bunting.”

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