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Brazil 1982: the most gifted but ultimately flawed midfield in history


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Brazil 1982: the most gifted but ultimately flawed midfield in history.

https://thesefootballtimes.co/2018/05/31/brazil-1982-the-most-gifted-but-ultimately-flawed-midfield-in-history/

Barcelona, 5 July 1982, 19:15 CET. In the bowels of the Estadi de Sarrià, men are sobbing uncontrollably while some are just vacantly staring, too numb to comprehend what has just happened. In the stands above, men, women and children are sobbing uncontrollably too, their stares just as vacant, too numb to comprehend what has just happened. All around the world people are helpless to hold back

their anguish, many struggling to focus, too numb to comprehend what has just happened. The only sanctuary from this melancholic pandemic is the Mediterranean country of Italy.

The reason for this global outpouring of grief? Brazil had just been knocked out of the 1982 World Cup at the hands of the Azzurri. But this was no ordinary Brazil team; this was a side that captured the hearts and minds of football fans all across the world. They were the greatest side of their generation, a team that forms an unholy trinity with the Mighty Magyars of 1954 and Johan Cruyff ’s Total Football side of 1974 as the three best sides never to win the World Cup.

The Brazilians lined up for the 1982 finals to a soundtrack of samba drums and rhythmic dancing cascading down from the stands of the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. Enthusiasts, pundits, writers and tactical experts have pondered over manager Telê Santana’s formation and selections during the tournament, the most common conception being a 4-2-2-2 formation relying on the full-backs to provide width and two holding midfielders providing cover for two attacking midfielders who supported the front two.

At times the almost chaotic and cavalier commitment to attacking football was presented as a 2-7-1 formation, with two centre-halves staying back, while the full-backs provided width to a midfield five, leaving just a lone striker at the top of the formation.

So with essentially a fluid 4-5-1 formation assembled, the tournament favourites could begin their campaign to reclaim their world title. The only immediate problem was that Toninho Cerezo still had one game left of a three-game ban, having been sent off in a qualifier against Bolivia. Santana decided to bring in Roberto Falcão to replace Cerezo and start with Dirceu alongside Paulo Serginho.

Falcão – the ‘Eighth King of Rome’ as he had been coronated by Roma fans – didn’t join Santana’s squad until May after the Serie A season had finished. A deep-lying playmaker, he had been named Brazilian footballer of the year in 1978 and 1979. Falcão’s transfer to the Old Continent severely limited his appearances for Brazil. Indeed the midfielder didn’t play for the Seleção between 1979 and 1982.

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Read  |  Zico: the colossal genius of Brazil’s timeless son

He was one of the last players to join the 1982 World Cup squad and only played in the final two warm-up games prior to the opening fixture against the Soviet Union. However, Santana saw Falcão’s organisational ability, leadership and considerable European experience as a more than suitable replacement for Cerezo for the opening game.

Cerezo was also an alleged holding midfielder, though the Brazilian interpretation of that role would appear to differ greatly from exponents of the European game. He was essentially a deep-lying playmaker with a wonderful range of passing. Santana had already managed Cerezo during the midfielder’s 11-year stay at Atlético Mineiro and was fully aware of his technical capabilities as well as his physical attributes. Cerezo was often described as having two pairs of lungs, such was his athletic ability to cover the entire pitch.

If Falcão and Cerezo were supposedly the defensive elements in the Brazilian midfield, the attacking components contained a predominantly left-sided winger who could strike the ball so hard he was nicknamed O Canhão (The Cannon), the best player in the world at the time – the ultimate fantasista in a team of fantasistas – and a captain who was also a qualified doctor, a political thinker and a symbol of Brazilian democracy.

Éder was the only player in that midfield who offered any natural width. He was a player with exceptional physicality, incredible strength and power, but was neither quick nor displayed any real desire to work hard for his team. What he did have was incredible skill and technique in his left foot. Éder was a player who could bend the ball with the inside and outside of his foot, with one Brazilian commentator claiming he could “make a football turn 90 degrees with one strike of his left foot.”

Zico was widely acknowledged as the greatest player in the world going into the 1982 World Cup, having been voted South American Player of the Year in 1981 and 1982. He was a classic number 10 and regarded as the second-greatest Brazilian footballer of all-time after Pelé.

The Flamengo legend was technically perfect. He could link the play between midfield and the strikers, he could pass equally well with both feet, and he also had incredible vision. Allied to this, Zico was a prolific goal-scorer and free-kick expert. The Brazilian number 10 was the ultimate exponent of creative inspiration within Santana’s team.

Finally, to the leader of this mesmerising quintet. Sócrates was a passionate nationalist, who at a young age had put his football career on hold to complete his training as a doctor. A deep thinker and intelligent man, he described himself as an anti-athlete, such was his lifestyle and penchant for cigarettes and alcohol.

What was never up for debate was Sócrates’ technical ability. He could play anywhere on the pitch, had incredible balance and poise, and made the game look so simple with his elegant grace and sublime skill. By 1982, Sócrates had developed an almost telepathic understanding with his international teammates.

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Order  |  Brazil

He was also a giant of a man both physically and metaphorically. With his impossibly long legs which were never afforded the protection of shin pads, Sócrates had made a career by dictating the pace and style of his side’s play without ever having to physically over-exert himself. For the 1982 tournament, he led by example, changing his lifestyle and committing to the training and physical conditioning prior to the start of the World Cup. The captain even gave up his beloved cigarettes in the lead up to, and during, the entire competition; no mean feat, bearing in mind he would puff his way through two packs a day.

And so, to that opening game against the USSR in the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, Seville. With Cerezo only an impotent spectator in the stands, Santana’s team made a stuttering start. The Soviet Union took the lead via a speculative shot which appeared to travel straight through Waldir Peres. For all the artistry and talent at Santana’s disposal, their inexperience at major tournaments looked to be stifling their creativity.

With 15 minutes left the skipper stepped up, side-stepping to the right before dropping a shoulder, stepping again to the right and unleashing a thunderous strike into the top corner. Sócrates had finally ignited the Seleção’s World Cup campaign.

The samba beat in the stands increased its rhythmic volume and tempo, trying to cajole another piece of brilliance from their side. With two minutes left Isidoro, a half-time substitute, rolled the ball to the right-hand side of the Soviet penalty area, where Falcão casually allowed the ball to run through his legs without even looking behind him.

Éder appeared from off camera and, without breaking stride, flicked the ball up with his left foot and struck a dipping volley with the same left foot, a shot so powerful it nearly ripped the net away from the goal-frame. 2-1, game over, and the nerves were gone.

 

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Falcão had been a revelation in replacing Cerezo, leaving Santana with a decision to make; and so the fantasy midfield of Brazil’s 1982 team came into being. What is startling is that prior to Brazil’s next game against Scotland, this improvised midfield quintet had only played together in one recognised fixture, and that was only for 20 minutes from the hour mark in the final warm-up game against the Republic of Ireland. From what followed you would never have known.

Against Scotland, they once again conceded first, but from the 18th minute onwards, the Brazilian side played football with an aesthetic beauty in its build-up play as well as an irreverent swagger with the way in which they put the ball in the net. The Seleção’s midfield was a rotating carousel operating at a carnival – it was loud and vibrant, and had the entire planet waiting and wanting to enjoy the ride.

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Read  |  Diego Maradona at World Cup 1982: the innocent devil

The midfield five just floated around the pitch, interchanging positions at will. The players rotated around the pitch almost as much as the rolling ball, which was caressed across the vibrant green surface under the floodlights. If one had looked down on the pitch from above it would have been akin to looking through a kaleidoscope, with pieces of yellow, green and blue plastic rotating and tumbling in a nonsensical manner.

Then suddenly the most beautiful pattern would emerge, and you would hold it with your eye and in your mind, before it disappeared and the apparent disarray of the component pieces returned. This was how the beautiful game was supposed to be played. The Scots were dispatched with four goals of differing brilliance. The Brazilian midfield had turned football into an art form, and for the rest of the world, the game would never be quite the same again.

International minnows New Zealand were dispatched the way of the USSR and Scotland. In their pre-match talk, the New Zealand coach commented to the players: “We [John Adshead and assistant coach Kevin Fallon] have seen them play twice and at any one time in the game the only ones who will remain still would be Waldir Peres and Serginho. All the rest are so mobile they could be anywhere at any time.”

The pace and accuracy of the passing was a joy to behold. It was not the short tiki-taka style of play associated with modern-day Barcelona; this was 10, 15, 20-yard one and two-touch passing. Every part of the foot was used to keep the ball moving or drop it off into the path of a willing runner. The carousel was proving to be an increasingly popular attraction. The second round pitched Brazil into another group alongside holders Argentina and a stuttering Italian side who had only managed three draws and two goals in their three group games.

Brazil just continued where they had left off. Argentina and the emerging talent of Diego Maradona were no match for Santana’s team. Éder sent a 35-yard free kick swerving three different ways before crashing against the underside of the crossbar. Zico, a player in perpetual motion, followed up the rebound. Next up, elongated outside-of-the-foot passes released the ‘holding’ Falcão in the infamously vacuous wide-right position, who crossed for Serginho to score the most English of far-post headers.

Finally, as if to emphasise their contempt for traditional formations and rigid playing structures, Zico picked up the ball 30 yards out from the Argentine goal and threaded the most perfect of passes, taking out four Argentinian players, and allowing Júnior, the left-back, to run through and calmly place the ball under the advancing Ubaldo Fillol. Júnior celebrated with the crowd, moving his feet and dancing to the rhythm. By now the carousel was practically spinning off its axis such was the pace and severity of its rotation.

And then to the final group game against Italy. Due to the Italians only beating Argentina 2-1 the draw was good enough for Santana’s men, but that was not his philosophy. The game was there to be won; at any rate, why should they fear the Italians?

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Read  |  The Spain before glory at World Cup 1982

What followed over the next 90 minutes is ranked as one of, if not the greatest, World Cup matches. Italy took the lead. Ironically that vacuous space on the Brazilian right which was so eagerly filled by the nearest player when in possession, was wide open when the Azzurri won the ball. Time and space allowed a perfectly whipped ball to be finished by Paolo Rossi after five minutes. The response was swift and incisive.

Sócrates and those impossibly long legs strode into the Italian half, flicked a 15-yard pass into the path of Zico, who turned his man-marker, the malevolent Claudio Gentile, with a deft back-heel. Sócrates accelerated beyond Zico and received the return pass from the number 10. The captain left the Italian defence in his wake and fired the ball past Dino Zoff at his near post.

The most audacious and sublime one-two had undone the Italians in an instant. A white cloud burst from the goal line as the ball fizzed past Zoff. It was like a firecracker had gone off in the Italian goal. John Motson called it “a goal that sums up the philosophy of Brazilian football.” A poorly-judged pass from Cerezo allowed Rossi once again to score past Peres and leave the Brazilians needing to score to progress. Such was Cerezo’s grief at what he had done, that Júnior had to threaten to “hit him in the face” if he didn’t stop crying.

The second half saw a continuous wave of Brazilian attacks, while the Italians, masters of defending a one-goal lead, were happy to counterattack. Eventually the pressure told, as Sócrates cut inside and rolled the ball to Falcão. Cerezo, who was everywhere on the pitch desperate to make amends, ran around the back of him to create the overlap. Cerezo took Antonio Cabrini, Marco Tardelli, Gaetano Scirea and the entire crowd behind the goal with him. Falcão instead pushed the ball to his left and rifled the ball past Zoff; 2-2, and Brazil were at this point going through to the semi-final.

Like the structure of any Greek Tragedy, the tale was to be epic, with its prologue setting the scene and the story being played out over three episodes. And so the third and final Italian contribution saw Rossi secure his hat-trick and push the Brazilian side towards elimination. For all the Seleção’s magic and inspiration, it was a goal too far to recover from. The carousel had finally stopped turning and the world went into mourning.

To debate the tactical naivety, the misplaced passes or poor marking is to defile the purity of the football played by Brazil’s 1982 side. Telê Santana had told his distraught players in the dressing room: “The whole world has been enchanted by you. Be aware of that.” The Brazilian coach received a standing ovation from over 300 members of the press as he walked into the room for the post-match press conference, acknowledgement indeed for what Santana and his team had given to the world.

During their five games, Brazil had scored 15 goals and seen seven different outfield players score. But it wasn’t about the number of goals or the numerous sublime and artistic ways they found to put the ball in the net. It was about their philosophy, their imagination, their style, their grace, their instinct, their love of the beautiful game, all played to a pulsating samba soundtrack.

Sadly the mesmerising quintet never played together as a unit for Brazil again. They had been brought together through circumstance and only shared a pitch for four games and 20 minutes. But the memories and emotions those five exceptional players produced will reverberate through the rest of time.

By Stuart Horsfield @loxleymisty44

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One of a few fine teams not to have won the trophy along with the Dutch in 74 and 78 and France in 86. Great to watch going forward but naive in defence. Remember being sad they went out early. 

The 82 tournament was one of my favourites. The early matches started just as the pubs opened on the way home from work, all the rest were at sensible times. Three home countries,N Ireland beating Spain, England unbeaten but not for the last time were caught waiting for an injured player. The great Brazil team, the cheating Germans and Austrians and the great SF between France and Germany culminating in the Germans getting well beaten in the final. Only let down really was the barmy second group stage they employed that year, that produced two groups of death.

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Remember that in 1982, we all got away early from school because the annual school play was on in the evening one of the weeks.

Got home in time to watch the start of the group games.

Remember watching the England v France game in the late afternoon. England won 3-1.

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Agree, that was a great Brazil team. A joy to watch. Other highlights for me were David Narey's goal for Scotland against Brazil. Scotland went 1-0 up but Brazil ended up winning 4-1 and Marco Tardelli's celebration after scoring. One of the all time great celebrations.

 

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Agreed mate.

The Dave Narey goal was a brilliant goal.  I'm sure I remember either Gordon Strachan or Graeme Souness saying that 'this goal just annoyed Brazil.'

From memory it could have been 6 or 7-1. To be honest that would have been no disgrace to Scotland losing by 6 or 7 to that Brazilian side. 

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No weakness in midfield at all imho. Poor keeper and centre forward were the crucial weak links in an otherwise truly fantastic team. Even so, that day against Italy, was still just one of those days when the sporting gods went against them. A 40 year keeper having one of his greatest ever days and the ball falling at the feet of desperately out of form Rossi, who suddenly sprang to life. Having said that, Italy improved greatly after that match and went on to become great champs of s truly great World Cup.

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How does it feel to face the legendary Brazil 82 side in their pomp? Scotland's goalkeeper tells Graeme Thomson...

 

What was the masterplan? 

Jock Stein’s plan was to take Brazil out of the equation and concentrate on New Zealand and Russia. Unfortunately, although we beat New Zealand comfortably, we lost a couple of bad goals and in the end they were the goals that made us come unstuck.

The 4-1 defeat against Brazil is legendary. When Narey’s ‘toepoke’ went in, did you think “God, now we’re in trouble…”?

It did seem like the Brazilians thought, “Och, we’d better get a couple of goals, then!” They were playing at walking pace. That’s one of my lasting memories. Even before the game started, we were soaked in sweat and they were standing there fresh as daisies, not a bead on them. They had so much class it was unbelievable.

Do you wince when you see film of Zico’s free-kick sailing over your head?

It was a bad goal from my point of view, but you’re on a hiding to nothing because these guys could put it wherever they wanted. Even Eder’s goal – the chip: how many people would try that in a World Cup? We knew what they could do, and hoped they didn’t do it against us. But they did! It was a wonderful performance.

The game didn’t exactly enhance the reputation of Scottish goalkeepers…

Well, Scottish goalkeepers have always had that stigma. There was Frank Haffey, who let in nine against England, and Stewart Kennedy had a bad game at Wembley in the 5-1 defeat in '75. You have to go out and prove yourself each time.

Scotland needed to beat Russia in the last game to qualify. At 1-1 Alan Hansen and Willie Miller crashed into each other and allowed Russia to score…

At 1-1, we had the upper hand, but that accident knocked us off our stride. We were pressing and pressing, which is why they were at the halfway line; there was a clearance and they never communicated. Shengelia was clear, and I could either come out or wait until he got nearer and see what he did. He had the time and composure to sidestep me and put it in. I’ve often thought what would have happened if I had come out.

What was the mood like afterwards?

Very subdued. To be knocked out on goal difference was galling; so near, yet so far.


Read more at https://www.fourfourtwo.com/features/big-interview-alan-rough-we-knew-what-they-could-do-and-hoped-they-didnt-do-it-against-us#AI0D2lAZSDfOxWu1.99

 

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Brazil 1982 – the last cavaliers

https://gameofthepeople.com/2019/09/05/brazil-1982-the-last-cavaliers/

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SINCE JUNE 21 1970, football fans have been longing for Brazil to gift the world the spirit of samba, the ball-juggling artistry that encapsulated jogo bonita, the romantic, natural brilliance that delivers entertainment and excitement. Brazil’s 1970 World Cup winners did not represent the start of something, that team was actually the culmination of a process that began amid the despair or Rio 1950. By the time the next World Cup came along, Brazil’s 1970 troubadours had mostly gone, with just Piazza, Jairzinho and Rivelino left from the all-star XI.

Maybe it was the heat and altitude of Mexico, or perhaps 1970 was a bookend for the crazy and experimental 1960s, but Brazil struggled to replicate the mood of the time. In 1974 and 1978, people were disappointed by Brazil, a team that had tried, in vain, to ape European methods in order to present a tougher image to the world. Whatever they were up to, it didn’t work, for Brazil were just plain dull in two World Cups, unable to live up to their billing.

Background

In truth, so many times this has characterised Brazil in the last 50 years. There have been only rare glimpses of the Copacabana attitude in 12 World Cups, but in one of them, 1982, Brazil sent a team out to play and entertain and should perhaps have lifted the World Cup instead of Italy. As it happened, Brazil 1982 merely became another of those “people’s favourites” who fell short of true greatness but whose legend has grown stronger with the decades. This team joined a club that includes Austria 1934, Hungary 1954, Portugal 1966 and Netherlands 1974.

Brazil, as a country, was under military rule from 1964 to the early 1980s, but the regime gradually fell apart and by 1982, Brazil was in financial chaos and had defaulted on its debt, triggering a downturn across South America. Football provided very little as a distraction, but in 1980, Telê Santana was appointed as head coach of the national team, a man who believed in the traditional Brazilian approach to football.

History is extremely kind to Santana, largely because he restored some belief in the popular view of Brazil as a footballing version of the Haarlem Globetrotters. Not everyone appreciated his style, though, or his stubbornly strict nature. When he took over in 1980s as Brazil’s coach, there was an uncomfortable acclimatisation period that saw him receive jeers from the crowd.

Argentina had won the 1978 World Cup and they had a new star in Diego Maradona. While the world was getting fascinated with the Buenos Aires street footballer, Brazil were preparing for the 1982 World Cup, to be held in Spain. Brazil had unveiled their “white Pelé” in 1978, Zico, but he had disappointed in Argentina and was either off his game or injured. Brazil were always uncovering the “new Pelé” but invariably it didn’t work out that way. Zico had the touches, but in a workmanlike Brazil team, he couldn’t shine.

Team

The World Cup qualifying competition was easily handled by Santana’s team, four straight wins against Venezuela and Bolivia, 11 goals scored, one conceded. It was the summer tour of 1981 that really acted as a curtain-raiser for Spain 1982 and the impressive results prompted the media to pronounce Brazil as favourites for the World Cup. Brazil played four games, against England, France, West Germany and Spain – all of whom would appear in World Cup 1982.

In the build-up to virtually every World Cup, the state of Brazil’s team would be the source of great speculation. There was often a degree of kidology involved in order to temper expectation, but as 1981 became 1982, people were talking about the current seleçâo as the best since the days of Pelé.

The squad for Spain included two players who had featured in 1974, goalkeeper Peres and midfielder Dirceu. Zico was 25 when he became known to the world in 1978 and Cerezo and Oscar had also featured in the squad for Argentina. The public image of the squad was that it was harmonious and “together”, but apparently, there was some friction between the players of Atlético Mineiro and Flamengo. This may have been triggered by the 1981 Copa Libertadores meetings between the two clubs, which both ended in 2-2 draws. A play-off followed and Atlético had five men sent off. Flamengo went on to win the competition, the only time they have lifted South America’s premier club competition.

The Brazilian squad was evenly spread across Brazilian football, with Flamengo providing three key players: Zico, Leandro and Júnior. Zico had been named South American Footballer of the Year in 1981, pushing the 1979 and 1980 winner Maradona into second position. While the Argentinian had been getting the headlines and Zico was still relatively unknown outside his native Brazil, the 1982 World Cup was seen as the theatre to provide affirmation for both players. With Zico 29 years old, it was arguably his last chance to impress the global audience.

Brazil’s captain, and to a large degree, the face of 1982, was not Zico, though. That honour fell to Socrates, a heavy smoker, a drinker and a bedraggled, messianic figure. Socrates was political, outspoken and the most unlikely looking footballer. But his presence and his ability epitomised the team of 1982. He played for Corinthians and specialised in delicate back-heels, as well as political statements, including the time he told the people of Brazil that he would never leave the country to play football elsewhere if the government implemented free elections. They didn’t and he left, somewhat reluctantly, to play for Fiorentina.

Zico and Socrates formed part of a midfield quartet that looked las though it was playing for fun. They passed the ball with a touch of fantasy in their boots, finding space and men with accuracy and invention. Falcão was 27 at the time and playing in Italy with Roma. He was a deep-lying playmaker with the ability to score spectacular long-range goals. Complementing Falcão was the workhorse of the midfield, the wafer-thin and lanky Toninho Cerezo of Atlético Mineiro.

Not for the first time in history, Brazil’s team of supreme talents had its soft underbelly. On this occasion it was the goalkeeper, Waldir Peres, who had been included in World Cup squads since 1974. Peres was much-maligned, mostly because of an early mistake in the World Cup when he allowed the USSR to take the lead in Brazil’s opening match. The Brazil side of 1970 was also said to have a weak keeper, but like his predecessors, Peres didn’t let too many goals. Similarly, Brazil 1982 had a less celebrated centre forward in the muscular and one-dimensional Serginho, who still managed to score twice in the competition.

The people of Brazil loved the 1982 team because it revived memories of the fluid, creative style of the past, the approach that had won three World Cups between 1958 and 1970. It included the best player from the main football states: Minas Gerais (Cerezo), Rio Grande do Sul (Isidoro), Rio de Janeiro (Zico) and São Paulo (Socrates).  In many ways, it was a team for one tournament, though. Zico was 29, Socrates, Falcão and Serginho 28, Cerezo, Oscar and Luzinho 27.

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Team

The World Cup qualifying competition was easily handled by Santana’s team, four straight wins against Venezuela and Bolivia, 11 goals scored, one conceded. It was the summer tour of 1981 that really acted as a curtain-raiser for Spain 1982 and the impressive results prompted the media to pronounce Brazil as favourites for the World Cup. Brazil played four games, against England, France, West Germany and Spain – all of whom would appear in World Cup 1982.

In the build-up to virtually every World Cup, the state of Brazil’s team would be the source of great speculation. There was often a degree of kidology involved in order to temper expectation, but as 1981 became 1982, people were talking about the current seleçâo as the best since the days of Pelé.

The squad for Spain included two players who had featured in 1974, goalkeeper Peres and midfielder Dirceu. Zico was 25 when he became known to the world in 1978 and Cerezo and Oscar had also featured in the squad for Argentina. The public image of the squad was that it was harmonious and “together”, but apparently, there was some friction between the players of Atlético Mineiro and Flamengo. This may have been triggered by the 1981 Copa Libertadores meetings between the two clubs, which both ended in 2-2 draws. A play-off followed and Atlético had five men sent off. Flamengo went on to win the competition, the only time they have lifted South America’s premier club competition.

The Brazilian squad was evenly spread across Brazilian football, with Flamengo providing three key players: Zico, Leandro and Júnior. Zico had been named South American Footballer of the Year in 1981, pushing the 1979 and 1980 winner Maradona into second position. While the Argentinian had been getting the headlines and Zico was still relatively unknown outside his native Brazil, the 1982 World Cup was seen as the theatre to provide affirmation for both players. With Zico 29 years old, it was arguably his last chance to impress the global audience.

Brazil’s captain, and to a large degree, the face of 1982, was not Zico, though. That honour fell to Socrates, a heavy smoker, a drinker and a bedraggled, messianic figure. Socrates was political, outspoken and the most unlikely looking footballer. But his presence and his ability epitomised the team of 1982. He played for Corinthians and specialised in delicate back-heels, as well as political statements, including the time he told the people of Brazil that he would never leave the country to play football elsewhere if the government implemented free elections. They didn’t and he left, somewhat reluctantly, to play for Fiorentina.

Zico and Socrates formed part of a midfield quartet that looked las though it was playing for fun. They passed the ball with a touch of fantasy in their boots, finding space and men with accuracy and invention. Falcão was 27 at the time and playing in Italy with Roma. He was a deep-lying playmaker with the ability to score spectacular long-range goals. Complementing Falcão was the workhorse of the midfield, the wafer-thin and lanky Toninho Cerezo of Atlético Mineiro.

Not for the first time in history, Brazil’s team of supreme talents had its soft underbelly. On this occasion it was the goalkeeper, Waldir Peres, who had been included in World Cup squads since 1974. Peres was much-maligned, mostly because of an early mistake in the World Cup when he allowed the USSR to take the lead in Brazil’s opening match. The Brazil side of 1970 was also said to have a weak keeper, but like his predecessors, Peres didn’t let too many goals. Similarly, Brazil 1982 had a less celebrated centre forward in the muscular and one-dimensional Serginho, who still managed to score twice in the competition.

The people of Brazil loved the 1982 team because it revived memories of the fluid, creative style of the past, the approach that had won three World Cups between 1958 and 1970. It included the best player from the main football states: Minas Gerais (Cerezo), Rio Grande do Sul (Isidoro), Rio de Janeiro (Zico) and São Paulo (Socrates).  In many ways, it was a team for one tournament, though. Zico was 29, Socrates, Falcão and Serginho 28, Cerezo, Oscar and Luzinho 27.

pa-12226288.jpg?w=915&h=500&crop=1 Brazil team group. (top l-r) Waldir Perez, Leandro, Oscar, Falcao, Luizinho, Junior. (front l-r) Trainer, Socrates, Cerezo, Serginho, Zico, Eder.

Spain

Brazil began the group stage with a 2-1 victory against the Soviets, who had taken the lead thanks to a slip-up by Peres. If that confirmed the pre-competition analysis of Brazil’s weak spots, the two goals that turned the game around rubber-stamped the team as being packed with star quality, the strikes from Socrates and Éder both spectacular efforts.

Outstanding goals became a feature of Brazil’s 1982 campaign, if they were not great finishes, they were well crafted. Scotland took the lead against Santana’s men but were made to pay, with wonderful efforts from Zico, Éder and Falcão. New Zealand were also beaten by four, with Zico running riot.

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The next stage saw Brazil in what everyone popularly called “the group of death”, including an out-of-sorts Argentina who were still preoccupied with the Falklands War and the over-expectation around Maradona, who was looking to move to Europe after the World Cup. And then there was Italy, who had laboured, uninspiringly, through their group with draws against Poland, Peru and Cameroon.

Brazil had charmed their way through the competition, along with a French side that had overcome a defeat in their first game and included the gifted Michel Platini. If football was to be the winner, the final should have been between these two countries.

Brazil beat a fractious Argentina 3-1, a game that ended with Maradona receiving a red card for a foolish attack on Batista. Argentina had already been beaten 2-1 by Italy, so they were out and this meant a draw would be enough for Brazil to reach the semi-finals, and they were favourites.

Italy, however, had a secret weapon simmering away in Paolo Rossi, the 25 year-old Juventus striker who had only just returned from a two-year ban due to his involvement in the Totonero betting scandal. Rossi, like Italy, had failed to make an impact in the first group stage. Against Argentina, he was subbed for the second time in the competition with 10 minutes to go. Rossi’s ability prior to his ban was unquestioned, but the decision to take him to Spain was controversial. Against Brazil, he would silence the critics and enjoy his finest hour.

Rossi opened the scoring after five minutes, a header on the run from Cabrini’s cross to the far post. Socrates levelled on 12 minutes after a good interchange with Zico, but Rossi made it 2-1 after 25, capitalising on a defensive error by Cerezo. It took Brazil 43 minutes to equalise, Falcão netting with another outstanding goal. At this point, Brazil were through to the last four, but they continued to spurn pragmatism and go in pursuit of more goals. With 15 minutes to go, Marco Tardelli played the ball into the area and Rossi turned it home to put Italy ahead and complete his hat-trick. Brazil were behind, and on the brink of elimination. They pressed, they twisted and turned, but the Italian defence refused to yield and prevented their key man, Zico from playing his usual game. There was a sense of disbelief that the overwhelming favourites, the team that had restored faith in the Brazilian ethos of beautiful football, had been knocked out.

pa-2287050.jpg?w=915&h=500&crop=1 Brazil’s Socrates (r) fires home the equalising goal despite the attempts of Italy’s Gaetan Scirea (c) and goalkeeper Dino Zoff (l)

Death in Barcelona

Italy and Rossi went on to win the competition and Brazil went home, returning as heroes, despite blowing their chance of glory. An embittered Zico, who would also win South American Player of the Year in 1982, commented that “this was the day football died”.

In hindsight, it probably was the end of something special. Brazil’s traditional methods had been beaten by a resilient but unexceptional Italian side. Their last three European competitions had all ended in anti-climax – 1966 in England when Pelé vowed “never again; 1974 in West Germany when the Dutch made it clear, football had moved on; and now in Spain when an inferior team had deprived them of success.

By the time 1986 came around, Brazil still had some of the 82 squad, but they went out of the Mexico-hosted competition in the quarter-finals, and they were, after all, four years older. Desperate to win the World Cup again – each passing competition would provide a reminder, “it’s 20 years since…” –  but questioning their own approach, they finally did it in 1994 in the US with a team that had very little in common with the heritage of the nation’s football. And unsatisfyingly, they did it on penalties after a dire game with old foes Italy.

The 1982 team really was the last flickers of the eternal flame that was lit as far back as the 1950s, when artistry and guile were staples of the Brazilian game. We still long to be stimulated by Brazilian skill, but we are ito often let down, even though footballers are made and nurtured in South America’s biggest nation. What is missing today is the spirit that gave us Garrincha, Pelé, Jairzinho, Ronaldo, Romario, Socrates, Falcão, Éder and Zico. Will it ever return?

 

@GameofthePeople

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5 hours ago, erskblue said:

Team

The World Cup qualifying competition was easily handled by Santana’s team, four straight wins against Venezuela and Bolivia, 11 goals scored, one conceded. It was the summer tour of 1981 that really acted as a curtain-raiser for Spain 1982 and the impressive results prompted the media to pronounce Brazil as favourites for the World Cup. Brazil played four games, against England, France, West Germany and Spain – all of whom would appear in World Cup 1982.

In the build-up to virtually every World Cup, the state of Brazil’s team would be the source of great speculation. There was often a degree of kidology involved in order to temper expectation, but as 1981 became 1982, people were talking about the current seleçâo as the best since the days of Pelé.

The squad for Spain included two players who had featured in 1974, goalkeeper Peres and midfielder Dirceu. Zico was 25 when he became known to the world in 1978 and Cerezo and Oscar had also featured in the squad for Argentina. The public image of the squad was that it was harmonious and “together”, but apparently, there was some friction between the players of Atlético Mineiro and Flamengo. This may have been triggered by the 1981 Copa Libertadores meetings between the two clubs, which both ended in 2-2 draws. A play-off followed and Atlético had five men sent off. Flamengo went on to win the competition, the only time they have lifted South America’s premier club competition.

The Brazilian squad was evenly spread across Brazilian football, with Flamengo providing three key players: Zico, Leandro and Júnior. Zico had been named South American Footballer of the Year in 1981, pushing the 1979 and 1980 winner Maradona into second position. While the Argentinian had been getting the headlines and Zico was still relatively unknown outside his native Brazil, the 1982 World Cup was seen as the theatre to provide affirmation for both players. With Zico 29 years old, it was arguably his last chance to impress the global audience.

Brazil’s captain, and to a large degree, the face of 1982, was not Zico, though. That honour fell to Socrates, a heavy smoker, a drinker and a bedraggled, messianic figure. Socrates was political, outspoken and the most unlikely looking footballer. But his presence and his ability epitomised the team of 1982. He played for Corinthians and specialised in delicate back-heels, as well as political statements, including the time he told the people of Brazil that he would never leave the country to play football elsewhere if the government implemented free elections. They didn’t and he left, somewhat reluctantly, to play for Fiorentina.

Zico and Socrates formed part of a midfield quartet that looked las though it was playing for fun. They passed the ball with a touch of fantasy in their boots, finding space and men with accuracy and invention. Falcão was 27 at the time and playing in Italy with Roma. He was a deep-lying playmaker with the ability to score spectacular long-range goals. Complementing Falcão was the workhorse of the midfield, the wafer-thin and lanky Toninho Cerezo of Atlético Mineiro.

Not for the first time in history, Brazil’s team of supreme talents had its soft underbelly. On this occasion it was the goalkeeper, Waldir Peres, who had been included in World Cup squads since 1974. Peres was much-maligned, mostly because of an early mistake in the World Cup when he allowed the USSR to take the lead in Brazil’s opening match. The Brazil side of 1970 was also said to have a weak keeper, but like his predecessors, Peres didn’t let too many goals. Similarly, Brazil 1982 had a less celebrated centre forward in the muscular and one-dimensional Serginho, who still managed to score twice in the competition.

The people of Brazil loved the 1982 team because it revived memories of the fluid, creative style of the past, the approach that had won three World Cups between 1958 and 1970. It included the best player from the main football states: Minas Gerais (Cerezo), Rio Grande do Sul (Isidoro), Rio de Janeiro (Zico) and São Paulo (Socrates).  In many ways, it was a team for one tournament, though. Zico was 29, Socrates, Falcão and Serginho 28, Cerezo, Oscar and Luzinho 27.

pa-12226288.jpg?w=915&h=500&crop=1 Brazil team group. (top l-r) Waldir Perez, Leandro, Oscar, Falcao, Luizinho, Junior. (front l-r) Trainer, Socrates, Cerezo, Serginho, Zico, Eder.

Spain

Brazil began the group stage with a 2-1 victory against the Soviets, who had taken the lead thanks to a slip-up by Peres. If that confirmed the pre-competition analysis of Brazil’s weak spots, the two goals that turned the game around rubber-stamped the team as being packed with star quality, the strikes from Socrates and Éder both spectacular efforts.

Outstanding goals became a feature of Brazil’s 1982 campaign, if they were not great finishes, they were well crafted. Scotland took the lead against Santana’s men but were made to pay, with wonderful efforts from Zico, Éder and Falcão. New Zealand were also beaten by four, with Zico running riot.

I nearly played against Socrates. In 87-88 spent a season with Corinthian Casuals. Summer 88 was the centenary of the forming of Corinthians São Paulo. They flew the squad out for 10 days, the high point being a friendly before the main kick off between Casuals and a Corinthians old boys team including Socrates.

No one could get near him by all accounts.

Wasnt allowed to go owing to the fact I had their worst single season disciplinary record ever. Gutted, however most of me team mates caught a dose out there, so maybe for the best.

Edited by Ewell CFC

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Ewell: Cheers mate. That would have been some experience had you played against him.

I remember Graeme Souness saying that both Socrates and Zico, strolled through that 4-1 game v Scotland in the 1982 World Cup.

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5 hours ago, Strider6003 said:

That got me interested in watching Italy beat them. Only the highlights yet the Italians looked like they were working much harder

 

Might just be that Brazilian team's style. Strolling through a game.

Italy really did hit a great peak in that tournament to be fair.

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On 01/06/2018 at 10:04, Boyne said:

Agree, that was a great Brazil team. A joy to watch. Other highlights for me were David Narey's goal for Scotland against Brazil. Scotland went 1-0 up but Brazil ended up winning 4-1 and Marco Tardelli's celebration after scoring. One of the all time great celebrations.

 

Bit OTT if you ask me. Anyone would think he’s just scored the winning goal in the World Cup Final!

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