Brazil World Cup edges closer but will it be alright on the night?

Nick Ravenscroft

Former Brazil Correspondent

Sao Paulo’s Itaquera stadium will be the venue for England’s crunch second game against Uruguay. Credit: ITV News/Nick Ravenscroft

Four months late. Five weeks until kick-off. When the ref blows his whistle at Sao Paulo’s Itaquera stadium the hosts Brazil will try to show Croatia - and millions of people around the world - what they’re made of.

It’s also Brazil’s chance to show what the country is made of.

One of the emerging BRIC nations (along with Russia, India and China), it was meant to use the World Cup and 2016 Rio Olympics as a statement of intent - a sign that it was striding towards its rightful place as a global force to be reckoned with.

There is still a lot of work that needs to be done at Sao Paulo's Itaquera stadium. Credit: ITV News/Nick Ravenscroft

Today, the President Dilma Rousseff will inaugurate this stadium. But just look what remains to be done.

Temporary stands at either end of the pitch are still being constructed. Completion is a mammoth task.

The collapse of a crane in November, killing two workers, held things up. But the stadium was already massively behind schedule.

The players' changing rooms glistened although plenty of basics were still in the corridors. Credit: ITV News/Nick Ravenscroft

On the plus side during our visit the pitch looked green and pleasant. As well as the World Cup’s opening match, Sao Paulo will also be the venue for England’s crunch second game - against Uruguay.

The Three Lions probably won’t be disappointed with the changing rooms, which glistened. Though plenty of basics - like baths - were cluttering up the corridors covered in dust.

A quarter of Brazil’s stadiums are still unfinished. Just read that sentence again. Transport links are, in many cases, not going to be ready. Power supplies are dodgy. Mobile phone coverage is poor. The list of headaches goes on.

'Squatter camp' for families who say they have been forced from their homes because the redevelopment has made rental prices surge. Credit: ITV News/Nick Ravenscroft

But after months of reporting on shortcomings in this country’s preparations ... we’re now hurtling towards the start of the tournament.

One part of me can hardly bear to watch. The other is screaming “Vai Brasil!” ("Go Brazil!") - I only hope the football has as much drama come June 12.

Will it be alright on the night? This country is praying feverishly. Only five weeks until we find out.