ROAD TO KOREA/JAPAN
|Brazil did anything but impress and lost six games in this qualifying campaign, but managed to get hold of third place
in the end to continue their ever-present record.
here for details
|Participations: (16) 1930, 1934,
1938, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994
|Best placing: Winners 1958, 1962,
1970 and 1994
detailed history information
|Rivaldo is once again expected to
be the link between midfield and attack for Brazil just as in 1998. He was highly successful
then, but the team has gone through a bad spell recently and magic from him
is needed to set Brazil alight in this tournament.
VERDICT: Through to KO stage
|It's been many years since Brazil were not one of the
hottest candidates to win the World Cup, but this year is such a year. Group C however does not contain good
enough teams to knock out the masters of samba soccer so Brazil might well accomplish three
straight wins here.
STRUGGLING BRAZIL HANDED AN EASY START
by Mike Gibbons
For a short while in 2001, as their national team suffered one humiliating defeat on top of another and their internal game was
rocked by scandal, it appeared as if Brazilian football was falling apart. In losing six of their eighteen qualifying matches, they
came perilously close to missing the World Cup finals for the first time ever in their history. The four times world champions,
who have acted in recent years as if the game was invented for them and them alone, looked set to get the ultimate
Eventually they turned it round, but who knows what damaging effects their turbulent qualifying campaign has had. In a three
game run last summer, they lost to Ecuador and Uruguay and drew at home with lowly Peru. They went to the Copa
America, and were humbled in the quarter-finals by tiny Honduras. At the Confederations Cup they lost to South Korea.
They used over sixty players in the qualifiers, and four coaches. Put simply, all confidence in the national team has been
destroyed and Brazil are a shambles. What many of their zealous fans hate most is the brand of negative, bruising football the
team now resort to, which would have the likes of Garrincha and the recently departed Vava spinning in their graves.
Brazils squad will contain many familiar faces. Roberto Carlos and Cafu still have first option on the full-back slots, whilst
Denilson of Real Betis, a real throwback to the good old days, is likely to be used as an impact player from the substitutes
bench. Juninho, once of Middlesborough but now flourishing back at Vasco de Gama, is perhaps the only creative option in
midfield, a sad sign of the times. Champions League strikers Elber (Bayern Munich) and Ronaldinho (Paris SG) will be
looking to grab the two striking positions, although both have under-performed for the national team that has constantly been
chopped and changed. Scolari also has many players around his squad more adept at stopping the opposition playing rather
than actually playing themselves, such as Lucio and Belletti in defence and the often brutal Emerson of Roma in central
All of Brazil’s hopes this summer seem to rest yet again on the three R’s – Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Romario. Rivaldo is often
sublime for Barcelona yet subdued for Brazil, which has more than once caused the fans to get on his back. However he is
still one of that elite group of maybe four or five players who are on a different plateau to everyone else in the game. He is a
matchwinner, and Brazil will accomplish nothing without him. Ronaldo has returned, although he is still unfit and unlikely to win
a regular place at Inter Milan before the end of the season, amid rumours that he will be sold this summer. Even if selected for
Brazil, has he the capacity to cope with those intense thirty days in June? He is being billed as the man who will come back to
save Brazil from their sorrows, which is ridiculous and unrealistic, and similar pressure to that which humbled him at France
98. And then we have the veteran Romario, now 36, but still a regular scorer of goals, a priceless asset in any team. Will
there be one last day in the sun for one of the great players of the nineties?
All told, incumbent coach Luiz Felipe Scolari appears to have quite a task on his hands to mold Brazil into anything like
contenders for Korea/Japan 2002. Fate however has dealt Brazil a kind hand, putting them in a group alongside Turkey,
China and Costa Rica. Even in their current state, Brazil can surely negotiate that. In the second round they will face any one
of either Russia, Tunisia, Japan and Belgium, so their chances of making the quarter-finals look excellent. As we have seen
many times, lady luck can be a most useful ally indeed.
So we will not see the Brazil of memory at this World Cup. They were built up to be a team of supermen at the last World Cup,
where they looked better on their TV adverts than they did on the actual pitch. The draw may have been kind to them this
time around, but Brazil will be in real trouble the moment they face a halfway decent team. There will be no glorious victory as
in 1958, 1962, 1970 and 1994, nor will there be the satisfaction of a moral victory for playing the best football, as in 1982. As
Scolari will be all too aware, that is just not good enough.
A BRIEF WORLD CUP HISTORY
by Jan Alsos
Four time winners Brazil is the only country who has participated
in all World Cups. Their history is long and distinguished and it started of course in 1930.
Brazil had problems in the first two tournaments and actually lost their first ever World Cup
match to Yugoslavia and also suffered another first round exit in Italy in 1934. Brazil didn’t
look like a footballing powerhouse until 1938 when Leonidas & Co went all the way to the
semifinal where eventual champions Italy ended their run. Their consolation was a bronzefinal
win over Sweden.
Brazil hosted the first World Cup after the war in 1950. A world record 200,000 people
packed the Maracana stadium in Rio to witness the World Cup final against Uruguay. Brazil
needed only a draw to become champions because the latter stage of the tournament was
played in a mini-league and Brazil had outclassed the other opponents Spain and Sweden,
but Uruguay shocked the world by winning 2-1 after coming from behind.
Brazil could not recover in Switzerland 1954. Instead they played a part in one of the ugliest
games in history - the infamous “Battle of Berne” - containing three dismissals which would
have been much more under today’s rules. The superior Hungarian team won this quarterfinal
4-2 in the end.
Brighter days would come. The 1958 team in Sweden is one of the most talked about in
history. Pelé came from nowhere to guide the team to a 5-2 win over the hosts in the final.
Prior to that they had played some superb games against tough opposition such as France,
England and the Soviet Union and scored eleven goals from the quarterfinal onwards. The
ghost from 1950 could be buried.
Brazil went on to dominate the next decade and more. Pelé injured himself early on in Chile
1962 and missed most of the tournament, but his replacement, Amarildo and Garrincha took
care of the business and helped Brazil to a second successive World Cup triumph, this time
beating Czechoslovakia in the final 3-1.
The yellow and green circus came to England in 1966 to complete the hat-trick of
championships, but the team was in for a rude awakening. They couldn’t deal with the
physical style of Hungary and Portugal who battled and kicked them out of the tournament. A
shock first round elimination was handed to them. Pelé crowned his career four years later
instead under the sun of Mexico. Along with Gerson, Tostao, Rivelino and Jairzinho he
formed arguably the best team ever seen in football. Six straight wins and an impressive 4-1
final victory over Italy was the icing on the cake. The third title was captured and the trophy
The post Pelé era has not always been glorious. The 1974 team was a shadow of the one
four years earlier and Brazil returned to the brutal and physical style of 1954 and won no new
friends in West Germany. Bronzemedals were won in Argentina 1978. Brazil were undefeated
in the tournament, but had to settle for the consolation final instead of the big final because of
goaldifference in the second phase group.
The 1982 team entertained a whole world. Zico, Socrates and the rest were superb until they
ran into a skinny babyfaced Italian forward named Paolo Rossi who sank the Brazilian ship
with three goals in a game Brazil - as in the 1950 final - only needed a draw to progress.
Many of the ‘82 members tried again in Mexico four years later, but once again they were
unable to clinch a semifinal place. This time France stood in their way in an all-time classic
game in Guadalajara.
A bleak and defensive side represented Brazil in 1990. Argentina - against the run of play -
knocked in the winning goal towards the end in the second round game. A more
appealing team with Romario and Bebeto up front ended Brazil’s titledrought after 24 years
in the US in 1994. A penalty shoot-out win against Italy after two goalless hours in Los
Angeles, meant Brazil had won the World Cup for a record fourth time. Brazil were favourites
to defend their title in 1998, but France were invincible at home and Brazil had to settle for
second after a 3-0 collapse in the final.
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