Two years after its men’s team was humiliated 7-1 by Germany in a World Cup semifinal, its women lost an agonizing penalty shootout against Sweden to exit at the same stage of the Olympic competition.
During 120 minutes of play, the air in this grand old arena crackled with an anxious mix of nervousness and expectation.
And at the end of an exhausting, goalless contest, it was Andressa who endured the agony of missing the decisive penalty.
After Sweden’s Lisa Dahlkvist found the back of the net to send her country into Saturday’s gold medal match, memories of past failing came flooding back for Brazil’s weary fans.
This defeat is another ghost that will haunt the Maracana, a venue built for Brazil’s hosting — and, it was assumed, winning — of the 1950 men’s World Cup, only for Uruguay to spoil its party.
Now its the Swedes who have dealt a crushing blow to this country’s football-mad public. Germany await them in the final.
Led by its captain Marta, the No. 10 with flecks of gold in her ponytail and magic in her boots, Brazil couldn’t find a way past a Sweden team it had beaten 5-1 during the tournament’s group stage.
At the conclusion of this match, Marta was left on the floor in tears. At the age of 30, she might not get another shot at gold.
“We feel horrible about the defeat,” said Brazil’s coach Vadao. “We dominated the game and the strategy of the Swedes was what we expected and they played well.
“There were few chances and, though we had control of the game, we had few opportunities and we know what happened in the penalties.”
Once the shock of defeat had sunk in, Brazil’s players were cheered from the field by a crowd which booed heartily during each of Sweden’s five penalties.
“Playing at this wonderful stadium. I can only say frustration, no other way,” he added. “I will not apologize as we did dominate the match and tried to find the best way to score.
“Through the whole 120 minutes we did try our best, we tried everything, that’s why it is so frustrating.”
Olympic football success is something Brazil craves. It’s the only major honor its men’s team is yet to win.
All eyes will now fall on the men’s team, who play Honduras at the same stadium on Wednesday.
And the form of Neymar and his teammates is making its fans nervous. Despite a 2-0 win over Colombia in the quarterfinals, Brazil was held to 0-0 draws by Iraq and South Africa during the group stage.
Victory over Honduras could set up a heavyweight final with Germany, which plays Nigeria.
“Since we lost to Germany, we don’t really have hope,” Bruno Ditommazi, a 32-year-old Brazilian from Sao Paulo who now lives in the UK, told CNN outside of the stadium.
“We can go to the final against Germany which is going to be trouble for us!”
What better way to exorcise those ghosts?