Situated some 75km away from the hustle and bustle of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s Granja Coamary training complex in Teresopolis is something of an oasis for the national team.
And this week it was home to coach Tite for the first time as he prepared his squad for World Cup qualifiers with Bolivia and Chile. The Selecao departed for Bolivia today, where tonight they move on to La Paz before returning to Sao Paulo for Tuesday’s clash with la Roja.
The logistics of this final competitive international break prior to World Cup 2018 haven’t been ideal, but familiarising themselves with what will be their home ahead of a trip to Russia next year has been vital for the much-travelled Selecao.
"It is a place they can call home, it will be where they will begin their preparations in earnest for the World Cup and it’s been important for the technical committee to get to know it better,” Eduardo Mansur of O Globo told Brasil Global Tour.
“For example, being there allows them to use equipment like drones, resources that aren’t available to you in other countries. The tiny details are important. There is a solid structure in place here, with spectacular playing fields, so Granja provides a level of comfort and luxury the Selecao are rarely afforded.”
Brazil’s affinity with Teresopolis began long ago, with the national team using it to prepare for World Cups since the 1970s.
"You have to keep the national training centre in use, as there has been a lot of investment made here. The first time they trained here was for the 1978 World Cup and there was no Granja Comary then, they trained at the Comary club here and then in 1987 they started to use Granja," recalled Paulo Vinicius Coelho of Fox Sports.
The entire city is transformed whenever the national team arrive here at Granja. Young people huddle around the doors of the centre, desperate to capture a glimpse of their idols and hoping for the chance to pose for photos and collect autographs.
"I live here in Teresopolis and I'm a huge fan of the Selecao,” said local Lucas Garcia. “I always come here but only once have managed to get in, before the Olympics, when I asked someone for help and she gave me a lift. I took a picture with Marquinhos and Gabigol and even talked to Neymar.”
Brazil’s presence here also boosts the local economy, with restaurant owner Leco underlining the importance of the increased media presence to his business.
"It has certainly increased, especially for the journalists and the tourists that flock here to see the Selecao. We have been here since 1994 and, since then, we have become accustomed to it all and love to welcome so many people here, some have even become close friends," he said.
"For the bakery, the local hotels, the market, our daily routines are transformed. We expect the team here next year ahead of the World Cup which will again be a boost for us.”
Ahead of 2014, a new hotel was erected specifically to deal with the demand of the media tracking the Selecao and some local dwellings have already adopted special schemes and are even providing special services, like car hires, for the travelling media.
Granja also welcomes the women’s team, who use the complex as their base as well, and the city has embraced its role as a home away from home for the Brazilian national team.