England’s training ground is directly below, at the Urca military training base, and it is here they are preparing to face another super-villain who is known for his bite, though Luis Suárez, strictly speaking, is next week’s problem.
For now the team are planning for tonight’s game against Italy and still getting used to the pounding heat. Chris Smalling had barely been out five minutes when one of the Football Association’s sports scientists, Barry Drust, could be seen bringing out a spray and cooling him down in the way someone might water a geranium.
Rickie Lambert was handed a water bottle and emptied the contents over his head. Inside the dressing rooms the team have an industrial fan that blows water vapour over the players. That will be going with them to Manaus, where the humidity will be even more intense.
Roy Hodgson and his players arrived with a cavalcade of police cars, motorcycles, army trucks, a helicopter and – no kidding – a gunship and a submarine following around the coast.
This was the only time an England training session will be open to the public this week and the FA has even sent people up Sugarloaf to check there are no spying points from the cable cars that take 1,360 people up and down every hour.
In the 2006 World Cup there were opposition spies scaling the trees around England’s Bavarian training camp to watch Sven-Goran Eriksson’s practice sessions. This time it might need someone to abseil down the 1,300ft-high mountain to establish whether Hodgson is planning to use Danny Welbeck or Raheem Sterling on the left side of attack.
Before every tournament a manager likes to say his team are perfectly prepared. Hodgson did not have that luxury when he was parachuted into the job just before Euro 2012 but he says it now and genuinely seems to mean it.
The FA has sent out turf specialists to work on the grass, making sure it is the same length as the team will find at the Arena da Amazônia on Saturday to the millimetre. Scientists from Loughborough University have designed specially tailored recovery drinks for each player depending on their sweat outputs. All that is really left – and this is the old-fashioned thing – is for England to show they can take care of a football better than their opponents.
That was beyond them the last time they faced the Italians in a major competition, the quarter-finals of Euro 2012, when Andrea Pirlo put together more passes than England’s entire midfield quartet.
This time the common view is that Hodgson needs one of his attackers to drop back and make sure the doyen of Italy’s team does not have the space to run the game.
Wayne Rooney is one candidate, Welbeck another. Yet there is another way to prevent another peacock-like spreading of Pirlo’s feathers and that is for England to keep the ball themselves.
“How are we going to stop Pirlo? What we’re going to do first of all is play better this time than we did then,” Hodgson said. “The Italy game was actually our worst performance of that tournament and all the players would agree with me. We didn’t think we played anywhere near as well as we could.
“Against a tiring team Pirlo had a very good game because he’s a very good player. But we did show incredible character, incredible determination and incredible fight because, although we weren’t playing well, we kept a very strong Italian team at bay for 120 minutes and actually gave ourselves a chance of winning on penalties.
“It was a stage of the tournament when we were weary. Our squad was quite small. Steven Gerrard was injured. Both he and Scott Parker in normal circumstances might have come off at half-time.
“What are we going to do this time? First we will play a lot better and we will play with more energy because we will have more energy as it will be the first game in the tournament. We will be even more compact. We’re also going to make certain that Italy have a lot more to concern themselves about with our attacking play, because one of the problems we had in that game is that we weren’t functioning well as an attacking unit.
One of our plans this time is to make certain we do a lot more attacking and that Italy find themselves wondering what they’re going to do about people such as Steven Gerrard or Wayne Rooney.”
Hodgson and his staff spent their Sunday evening in a television room at their hotel, the Royal Tulip, watching Cesare Prandelli’s team beat Fluminense 5-3 in a warm-up match featuring a hat-trick from Ciro Immobile.
Outside the hotel it resembles the scene of a presidential visit, with more army and police vehicles, plus security officials wearing earpieces and carrying walkie-talkies. Inside it is far more serene. The players have a games room, with table tennis and snooker. There is a golf course next door and the views of São Conrado beach are spectacular.
In Krakow, for Euro 2012, the players stayed in the centre of town at the Stary Hotel, not realising that the terrace bar of a nearby Hooters would be playing music into the early hours. After the first night Hodgson was ready to move out only for the mayor to step in and persuade the bar to keep the noise down.
This time the first impressions have been more encouraging and the only problem so far has been Ross Barkley missing the bus on its way to training. It was not until the driver had gone 50 yards or so further up Rua Aquarela do Brasil that everyone realised the Everton player was not on board. A different manager might have taken umbrage.
Hodgson was willing to see the funny side and Barkley was given a round of applause by the players and coaches when he caught up.
It was a light training session, to take into account England had played on Saturday and flown in from Miami, but it was still apparent that Jack Wilshere, by his own admission, was catching up in terms of his general fitness and being treated with caution.
Wilshere was left out of an attack-versus-defence match to embark on some light jogging with one of the fitness coaches and finished the session on an exercise bike. “In an ideal world I would have preferred a few more games,” he said afterwards.
The players are, however, finding the heat more tolerable. “I’ve been to Malaysia before in pre-season and not been able to breathe,” Wilshere said.
“But today, and in Miami, I did feel a little bit better.”