For one month every four years, hockey town turns into soccer city, and that time is here! Yes, the FIFA soccer World Cup is nearly upon us, beaming in from venues across Brazil, and we’ll feel the heat rise right here in Montreal as the hopes and dreams of 24 countries will be very visual from Pointe Claire to Montreal North, the Plateau to Parc Avenue, downtown to St-Leonard.
The World Cup runs through June 12 to July 13, and as Canada did not make it to the finals this year (or any year since Mexico in 1986!), I want to share with you my take on where to watch matches.
But first, where to get that cool shirt for the team you follow? Get yourself down to Evangelista Sports (6821 St-Laurent), which stocks shirts for all 24 teams, including Iran and World Cup first-timers Bosnia and Herzegovina. There are some amazing shirts this year: my favourites include the ultra-modern Japanese home shirt, and the all-black German second strip, which oozes coolness. And you’ve got to check out the Cameroon shirt — it’s just bonkers.
Thankfully, this year’s host country is in a time zone right next door to ours (one hour difference) so we don’t have to wake up at 3 a.m. and quietly cheer for our team. The games will be on from 12 to 9 p.m. most days, so bars in Montreal will be happy for some post-playoff revenue.
Of course we have an abundance of great bars in the city, but here are a few where World Cup mania will be rampant, with their respective team affiliations:
Burgundy Lion (2496 Notre-Dame W.)
This is as close as Montreal gets to a proper English pub, making it the ideal choice for all the British guys and girls in the city (myself included) to gather together and shout at the TV, drink many pints of beer and cry as the team loses on penalty shoot-outs.
L’Barouf (4171 St-Denis)
Vive la France! Fans of le bleu, blanc et rouge will love this place, and you can’t miss it on game days, as a massive French flag hangs in front of the building.
Bar Sportiva (St-Laurent and Dante)
The cries of “ITALIA!” will ring out all over Little Italy, but this is a classic spot to get in and watch the azzurri. But really, just being on this part of St-Laurent on game day will make you want to paint your face blue.
Bar Coin du Metro (10719 Lajeunesse)
This place is amazing for supporters of all the South and Central American teams. Fans of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chili and more will cheer for their own in this laid-back bar.
Movida (4561 St-Laurent)
This tapas resto-bar is where the current World Cup champions (Spain) will call home in Montreal. Expect loud chants of “olé olé” (and it’s got nothing to do with the Habs, just put that out of your mind) as Fernando Torres and co. attempt back to back World Cup wins.
Champs Bar (3956 St-Laurent)
The Main’s premier sports bar is a great option for the neutral footie connoisseur, as fans from all over the world will congregate here. Just keep an eye on Portugal match days as Champs will be extra busy — it’s in the heart of Little Portugal.
Bishop & Bagg (52 St-Viateur W.)
Burgundy Lion’s sister pub gives England supporters and neutral fans a spot to cheer from across town, and it’ll probably be the go-to for Montreal’s coolest soccer fans, as it’s located in Mile End.
33 Lounge (6900 Parc)
Parc Extension is the place to be when Greece is on the field, and this lounge/bar is one of several obscure spots in the neighbourhood that’ll be packed with fans cheering on the old-country team. ■
See Marek Whitechurch’s soccer blog here