The all-time World Cup

June 24th 2005
London, Wembley Stadium
1-4 (1-2)

      GOALS                    6'  0-1  Giuseppe Bergomi
                              34'  0-2  Giuseppe Meazza
                              40'  1-2  Romario
                              73'  1-3  Sandro Mazzola
                              84'  1-4  Christian Vieri

      REFEREE                 Gottfried Dienst (Switzerland)

      ATTENDANCE              94,000

      YELLOW CARDS            Pereira, Cafu (BRA)
                              Maldini, Collovati, Tardelli (ITA)

      BRAZIL (Coach: Mario Zagalo, system 4-4-2)

       1 Claudio Taffarel
       2 Cafu
       4 Djalma Santos
       3 Luiz Pereira
       6 Nilton Santos             (-46)
      19 Jairzinho
       8 Toninho Cerezo
      18 Gerson                    (-36)
      16 Didi
      10 Pelé (captain)
       9 Ronaldo                   (-78)
      12 Romario                   (+36)
      17 Roberto Carlos            (+46)
      14 Ademir                    (+78)

      ITALY (Coach: Vittorio Pozzo, system 4-3-3)

       1 Dino Zoff
       2 Giuseppe Bergomi
      20 Fulvio Collovati
       6 Franco Baresi (captain)
      15 Paolo Maldini
      14 Marco Tardelli
       8 Romeo Benetti
      12 Sandro Mazzola            (-87)
       7 Giuseppe Meazza           (-89)
       9 Silvio Piola
      11 Luigi Riva                (-68)
      21 Christian Vieri           (+68)
      10 Gianni Rivera             (+87)
      16 Valentino Mazzola         (+89)


    Brazil and Italy met in a match for a place in the final, in a boiling Wembley Stadium. Of course spectators would have preferred to see their own England but the fixture between these two superpowers of the World Cup was a very good alternative. Brazil had to do without two of their defensive pillars. Ricardo Gomes and captain Dunga both sat out a suspensions because of two bookings. Pelé now captained the team. Zagalo chose an offensive solution. In place of Dunga, Gerson made the starting line-up. Zagalo speculated on the cooperation between Pelé and Gerson that had done the Brazilians so much good in 1970. Djalma Santos replaced Ricardo Gomes.

    In the Italian team also a change in defence. Ferri was cautioned twice and Collovati came in his place. Bergomi however was back, Burgnich on the bench again. Collovati would play against Ronaldo, Bergomi marked Pelé. The question was whether this Italian team would be able to chain the best strikers in the history of the game. Brazil vs. Italy, the best strikers vs. the best defenders!

    Would Zagalo have done the same again, had he known before what he knew after the game? Bringing an offensive midfielder instead of controlling Dunga didn't prove to be the best option. Italy, with Benetti in an excelling role, coped surprisingly well with the Brazilians. Tardelli and Benetti overpowered Didi and Gerson completely, especially in the beginning no single Brazilian attack developed. Brazil seemed overwhelmed and didn't know what to do. And that wasn't helped by the early lead Italy took. That came in the 6th minute, from a free kick. Meazza crossed and at the far post Bergomi easily scored with his head: 0-1. Bergomi had been totally unmarked, a typical matter of Brazilian defensive carelessness. In 1982 they had been punished for it before and they should have known better.

    But as usual, Brazil seemed untouched. They had overcome situations of being behind in earlier matches, too. But Italy was a team of another level. Baresi kept his defence far from their own goal, thus making it difficult for Brazil to use quick combinations. They offered the yellowblue little space, too little even for the Brazilian wizards to find openings. And when Didi or Gerson did find Ronaldo, Collovati played very strong against him. Pelé dropped to midfield to collect the ball but also got stuck in the traffic jam Italy created there. Though El Rey was responsable for the only dangerous moment Brazil could force in the first 30 minutes. He tricked Bergomi and sent a perfect pass to Jairzinho who left Maldini standing. The post saved Zoff and Italy. A sudden strike of Brazilian class, too brilliant even for the masters of defence. But it was the only moment Italy were outplayed. For the rest the Squadra stood tall, though Maldini and Collovati received a yellow card for fouling Jairzinho and Toninho Cerezo.

    It was Italy who were at the helm. And they increased their lead after 34 minutes. If something was clear, it was that the Brazilian backline wasn't of the same class compared to the Squadra Azzura. Mazzola took the ball and dribbled towards the box. When he played the ball to Meazza, Nilton Santos - Meazza's direct opponent - was nowhere to be found. Djalma Santos, the possible corrector, wasn't either. Meazza didn't hesitate and the bullet passed Taffarel who had no single chance to do something: 0-2. To make the misery complete, Pereira received the yellow card for a late tackle on Mazzola when he crossed the ball. After treatment Mazzola could go on. Dienst had allowed play to go on, a great decision for Italy!

    It now was a matter of do-or-die for the Brazilian favourites. Zagalo saw it and reacted without waiting, did what he had done earlier in the competition when Brazil were in trouble. He substituted Gerson who had not been the factor Zagalo thought he would be. In his place no second kind of solid Dunga, but striker Romario. Pelé now played more from midfield. The pressure however on Toninho Cerezo, who had been overburdened anyway, only grew, and so the vulnerability of Brazil. But the team always remained capable of a sudden flash, especially with Romario in the team. Five minutes before the break Pelé reached the brilliant striker with a neat pass and Romario finished with a low drive out of reach for Zoff: 1-2. It brought back the tension in the match. Once more it was a prove that Brazil did not need to play well, even did not have to better than the opponent, to be dangerous, score ánd win. Uruguay could tell the story.

    During half time Zagalo made another change like he had done before. Nilton Santos remained in the dressing room and Roberto Carlos came in and brought more pace on the left. Didi now played more inside but for Italy it wasn't a big problem. With Tardelli, Benetti and Mazzola they had enough players in midfield to win a lot of battles. The "train" Roberto Carlos however caused danger with his rushes, crosses and shots. Zoff though was as solid as a rock and when Meazza couldn't hold Roberto Carlos then Bergomi and Baresi, again stepping in when necessary, were a hurdle much more difficult to take. Still chances came for Brazil. Ronaldo, breaking free from Collovati, headed towards goal from a Jairzinho cross but Zoff saved quietly. A shot from Roberto Carlos went just wide, Pelé tried from 25 metres out but Zoff again kept it out. It was real match at last, just being well organized seemed to be not enough for Italy now. Brazil had too much in store, to be thrown out just like that. But the equalizer wouldn't come though Didi went close when he beat Zoff with a fierce shot. Referee Dienst however ruled Ronaldo off side and disallowed the goal.

    It was the last push in the back Italy needed. They withdrew from the pressure when Brazil ran out of steam and decided the match shortly after. Mazzola finished a beautiful strike that was set up by Tardelli, who wouldn't stop running, and Piola. It was the 1-3 in the 73th minute. Nobody could imagine that Italy would give away a 2-goal lead, on the other end nobody would believe that Brazil would be out of the All Time World Cup. Everyone had thought they would win the title. Zagalo saw that Ronaldo wouldn't do it and replaced him with Ademir. The 1950 star however couldn't do anything important. When 6 minutes from time Vieri, who came in for Riva, even scored the 1-4 it became a drama for Brazil. Vieri took a pass from Meazza at once, Taffarel had to give away a rebound and Vieri himself converted.

    Now the world knew that the huge favourites were stumbling and that they wouldn't recover. Italy had been very well prepared tactically, had played like a team and had mastered the individual talents of the best Brazilians. Maybe not completely, but enough. And they had made the most of the Brazilian way of defending. At the same time Zagalo had gambled on Gerson and he had lost. He had thought that Gerson and Didi could outplay Benetti and Tardelli but the Italians had won the fight gloriously. The win was deserved. Italy qualified as first team for the final of the All Time World Cup. If wins over Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Germany hadn't been enough to convince, then certainly this big win over the Selecao was. Brazil crashed in the semi final but had entertained the whole world. A slight consolation. A third place match was all that left them but rather they would have gone home immediately.

    Next Tuesday the question will be answered, who will play Italy in the final. In Rio de Janeiro Argentina take on Holland, Maradona takes on Cruijff. The match is difficult to predict. Argentina have very much impressed and won their games quite easily. Scoring 18 goals against most strong opposition tells the whole story. Menotti can rely on his line-up though Ruggeri is out suspended. Perfumo is likely to replace him. Holland are without Johan Neeskens. Jan Wouters may be his replacement, a midfielder equally strong in defence but a little less dynamic going forward. Holland had difficulties beating France, but who wouldn't? The odds are even. Romualdas Arppi Filho from Brazil is the referee. There had been some controversy about his nomination when his home country was still in the race, but now when Brazil had lost Arppi Filho's role was confirmed by FIFA-boss Jules Rimet.


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