The reason behind the saying “The English invented it [football], and the Brazilians perfected it”, the Brazilian football team is controlled by the Brazilian Football Confederation, and are one of the most successful teams in the history of the World Cup. Keeping at the top of rankings amongst football nations, by Elo Ratings, Brazil is the only team to have qualified for every single World Cup held so far.
The first match played by the Brazilian national football team is dated to sometime in 1914, against Exeter City, an English Club. Brazil won the match, but they failed to make the sort of impression that they achieved in thier later years. One of the main reasons for this was the infighting, particularly within Brazilian Football Associations.
It was only in 1938 that Brazil managed to gain a third place in the World Cup, and Brazilian team member Leonidas da Silva won the title of top goal scorer of the entire tournament. Brazil even played hold host to the FIFA World Cup in 1950. The peculiarity of this World Cup was the lack of a clear final game, though unofficially the match between Uruguay and Brazil is considered the final, which Brazil eventually lost, even though they only required a draw to win. This match is known as the Maracanazo in South America and Final Fatidica in Brazil.
Following this, in the 1954 World Cup, despite Brazil having a group of strong players, such as Didi, Djalmo Santos and Nilton Santos, the team lost to Hungary in the quarterfinals. This match was another major failure for Brazil and to this day is known as the Battle of Berne.
1958-1970 - The Glory Days
Vicente Feola made sure every player understood that he meant business with the 1958 FIFA World Cup, by imposing strict rules which included a ban on smoking while wearing official uniforms, wearing hats and even communication with the press outside of the allotted times. This was also the first time that a psychologist became a part of the team, as well as a dentist. Most importantly the Brazilian team sent out a representative to Europe in order to watch the qualifying matches of the teams there, a year before the actual tournament began.
For the 1958 World Cup, Brazil was clubbed together with USSR, Austria and England, one of the toughest groups. Even though they eventually managed to beat Austria 3-0, and end with a draw with England, the Brazilians were still worried about USSR. As a counter measure to USSR’s strategy of attacking eary in the game, Didi, Nilton Santos and Belllini managed to convince the coach, Vicente Feola, to make three substitutions in the team, which would then include Pele, Zito and Garrincha. This move paid off with Brazil maintaining a constant attack on the USSR team, and eventually winning the match 2-0.
Moving on to the quarterfinals, Pele won the match for Brazil with a goal against Wales, and then beating France 5-2 in the semifinals. Brazil lifted their first World Cup trophy with a 5-2 victory against Sweden, in 1958. For their second World Cup win in 1962, Garrincha stole the show with his abilities, even as Pele as unable to play for most of the tournament due to an injury early on in the tournament.
The 1966 FIFA World Cup was a disastorous experience for the Brazilian team, which was plagued by political problems. The tussle for the time of the players between Vicente Feola and the Brazilian Clubs eventually lead to a lot of bad blood between the two, and a negative impact on the players. Also, Pele was not utilized at all during the tournament, despite being at the height of his career. Brazil redeemed its poor performance in the 1970 World Cup tournament, by bagging it’s third World Cup trophy. The team for the 1970 World Cup was one of the best in the team’s history, including players such as Pele, Jairzinho, Rivelino, Tostao, Carlos Alberto Torres, also the captain, and Gerson. Brazil also won the Jules Rimet Trophy for the third time, thereby earning the right to keep it.
1970 – 1994: The Climb Down
Pele retired from international football after the 1970 World Cup win, and many of the good players followed suit. This resulted in Brazil being unable to retain the title in the next World Cup, though they did manage a fourth place finish. But it was the 1978 World Cup which was remember due to its controversial nature. This was because in the last group match Brazil managed a 3-1 win against Poland, and qualified top of group with a goal difference of +5. In the running was also Argentina, which was at a goal difference of +2. The controversy occurred when Argentina managed a miraculous 6-0 win against Peru, and went on as top of the group. Brazil had to make do with a third place win, against Italy.
Once again in the 1982 FIFA World Cup, Brazil, also the favorites to win the tournament were abruptly eliminated from the competition by Italy, in a 3-2 defeat. The game, known as the Sarrias Disaster, is known in particular for the stellar performance of Paolo Rossi, who scored all three of Italy’s goals. Despite their performance, the 1982 Brazilian team is believed to be one of the best teams that never got to win a World Cup.
Some members of the 1982 returned for the next World Cup as well, this time in Mexico, and despite their age, managed to give a good performance. One of the most noteworthy matches in this tournament was the quarterfinals against France, a classic game. Football drama at its height, both teams played till the second half with a 1-1 score, when Zico came on, and missed out on a penalty, which was supposed to give Brazil its lead. The match eventually led to a penalty shoot out, which included a goal by Zico, a miss by Julio Cesar da Silva and Socrates, as well as a miss by Michel Platini, French Captain, ended with Brazil being eliminated, 4-3.
The 1990 FIFA World Cup resultd in Brazil reaching the second round, with coach Sebastiao Lazaroni opting for a defensive scheme, which lowered creativity but ensured better results.
1994-2002: Turn of Fate
The 1994 FIFA World Cup ended the dry spell for Brazil, which had not won a World Cup trophy in 24 years, neither had it managed to gain a spot in the finals. Despite a lesser known team, with players such as Jorginho, Bebeto, Romario, Taffarel and Dunga, Brazil had some spectacular wins in the tournament, including the quarterfinals against the Dutch, a 3-2 win, the semifinals against Sweden, a 1-0 win and the finals against Italy, which resulted in a penalty shoot out after a 0-0 draw, and went in Brazil’s favor after Roberto Baggio kicked his ball over the crossbar.
This was just the beginning of the turning fate of the Brazilians, who went on to nab the runner-up position in the 1998 World Cup, against hosts France. A poor Brazilian defense, capitalized by the French, ended with Zinedine Zidane scoring two header goals. In addition Brazil also had to deal with team star Ronaldo’s epileptic seizure, just a few hours before the final match began.
But the 2002 World Cup was dominated by the Three R’s, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo and Ronaldo, who led the team to victory, and helped Brazil win the World Cup trophy for the 5th time. Put into a relatively easy group, containing China, Turkey and Costa Rica, Brazil beat all three teams, though Turkey managed an unexpected third place finish. It was during a match against Turkey, that Brazil’s Rivaldo earned a fine of £5,180 for play-acting, becoming the first player to be penalized for diving. The final match of the tournament was against two greats, Brazil and Germany, who surprisingly had never faced each other in the World Cup before. Ronaldo took home the prize with two goals past German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn.
2002-2006: The Parreira InfluenceIn 2004, Brazil beat Argentina to take home the 2004 Copa America title, and then they repeated their performance against Argentina again in the 2005 Confederations Cup. The 2006 FIFA World Cup tournament was known for several reasons, including formation nicknamed, The Magic Square. This was a name given by the then Brazilian coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, to represent his 4 offensive players, Kaka, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Adriano. But the starting hype did not translate into results, with Ronaldo suffering from several health problems and the Magic Sqaure struggling to stay ahead of the opposition’s defense.
Brazil managed to win their first 2 matches, against Croatia and Australia, but the signs of struggle were evident. Parreira then brought in five former reserve players, including Cicinho and Robinho, which turned out to be a stroke of genius, as Brazil sailed through a 4-1 victory against Japan. Their next win came against Ghana, in the second round of the tournament. But Brazil was unable to keep up the good form, and were eliminated from the quarterfinals after a 1-0 defeat against a strong French team, which conceded only one shot at goal to Brazil in the entire match.
Brazil returned home to a disappointed nation and harsh criticism from the media and fans. Pele went on to blame Perreira and Ronaldinho for Brazil’s elimination from the World Cup.
2006 – Onwards
Brazil received a new manager in the form of 1994 World Cup winning captain, Dunga. Jorginho joined the Dunga as his assistanct, and the team’s first match under his tenure ended in a 1-1 draw, against Norway. The second match was more noteworthy, with Brazil beating arch-rivals Argentina in a 3-0 match, in London. The winning streak continued for a period till they came up against Portugal in 2007, in a friendly match.
Dunga opted for a strategy quite unlike Parreira, and decided to treat all players with equal attention, and broadened his search for talented players, as well. Instead of limiting the search to popular clubs such as Barcelona, Real Madrid or AC Milan, Dunga scoured entire Europe to locate talents like Dudu Cearense and Vagner Love, from Russian Club CSKA Moscow and others. Only 2 players from the Magic Square were given a permanent place in the first team, Ronaldinho and Kaka, with Ronaldo not being given an opportunity most of the time. Instead Luis Fabiano has often been called in to form a part of the quartet.
The Copa America 2007 saw some action from the Brazilians, even though they lost the opening match to Mexico, but bounced back with wins against Ecuador and Chile. The semifinals were a 5-4 victory for Brazil, against Uruguay, in penalties. For the finals, Brazil faced rivals Argentina, but managed to beat them 3-0, with three spectacular golas by Julio Baptista, Roberto Ayala and Dani Alves. Robinho went on to win the Golden Boot as well as Best Player of the Tournament title.
In 2009, Brazil kept up its good form and bagged the FIFA Confederations Cup, in South Africa. They faced USA in the finals, beating Egypt, Italy and South Africa to get there. Kaka won the Player of the tournament title, while Luis Fabiano bagged the Top Goal Scorer Award.
As hosts of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Brazil is already eligible to play in the tournament.
The Olympic Experience
Brazil has never had the opportunity to win the Olympics football tournament, making it the only international competition, conducted by FIFA, to as of yet remain unconquered by the Brazilians. The yhave managed to win Silver medals in 1984 and 1988, as well as two Bronze Medals in 1996 and 2008.
Being one of the most popular teams in football history has resulted in Brazil earning several nicknames, differing due to source of origin. Some popular nicknames are selecao, which means the selection, Canarinho, which mean Little Canary, a name propagated by Fernando Pierucceti, a famous cartoonist, Amarelinha, Little Yellow, Verde-Amarelo, Green-Yello and Pentacampeao, which means Five-Time champions. Some English newspapers have also referred to the Brazilian players as Samba Kings.
The Brazilian National team does not have a home national stadium, and usually play their home World Cup matches at numerous venues such as Estadio Olimpico Joao Havelange, in Rio de Janeiro, Estadio do Maracana, also in Rio de Janeiro, Estadio Mane Garrincha, in Brasilia and others.
Brazil’s team colours were originally white with blue-coloured collaers, but after they lost the 1950 World Cup, the colours also came up for criticism, mainly due to lack of patriotism. This resulted in a competition in the Correio da Manha newspaper, to design a kit which would incorporate all the four colours of the Brazilian flag. This gave birth to the team’s current colours, a yellow jersey with green trim and blue shorts with white trim. The contest was won by Alydyr Garcia Schlee, a 19 year old boy, from Pelotas.
The away kit colours were decided quite by accident, as Brazil, who did not travel with a spare kit, were forced to wear away colours for a match against Sweden, who also wore yellow jerseys, and had earned the right to play in these colours. The team hurriedly bought a set of blue coloured skirts and cut out the emblems from their yellow jerseys and had them sewed onto to the blue ones.