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Brazil in the World Cup 1970 - Mexico

«Brazil in the World Cups.

Matches and Players

The starting team against Italy:
Brazil 1970

Carlos Alberto, Felix, Piazza, Brito, Clodoaldo and Marco Antonio;
Jairzinho, Gérson, Tostão, Pelé and Rivelino.

The team: Félix, Carlos Alberto (C), Brito, Piazza and Marco Antonio; Clodoaldo, Gérson and Pelé; Jairzinho, Tostão and Rivelino.
Substitutes: Ado, Leão, Baldochi, Zé Maria, Everaldo, Fontana, Paulo César Caju, Roberto, Dario and Edu.
Coach: Zagallo.

The matches:
»Brazil 4 x 1 Czechoslovakia.
»Brazil 1 x 0 England.
»Brazil 3 x 2 Romania.
»Brazil 4 x 2 Peru.
»Brazil 3 x 1 Uruguay.
»Brazil 4 x 1 Italy.

Read also information about the World Cup Brazil 2014:
»Cities; matches will take place in twelve host cities.
»Stadiums; photos and information about all stadiums of the World Cup.
»Teams; there will be 32 teams in Brazil.
»Tickets; how and where to buy, what's the price.
»Confederations Cup 2013, a rehearsal for the World Cup.

The Preparation

Mexico 1970
Mexico 70 Poster

As it was the norm back in the days, Brazil won all six matches of the Qualifiers, beating Paraguay, Colombia and Venezuela.
See results of the Qualifiers to the 1970 World Cup.

Whenever there is a survey in Brazil about which was the best team ever, this 1970 team ranks among the favourites; the other usual candidates are the teams of 1958 (which had Pelé, Didi and Garrincha playing together) and of 1982 (which, despite having enchanted the world, did not win the championship).

The preparation to the tournament had been turbulent; Brazil did not leave to Mexico as a favourite to be the champion.

Brazilians didn't do well in the 1966 Cup in England, so they had to play the Qualifiers against Colombia, Venezuela and Paraguay.
As expected, Brazil was far superior to the adversaries, and had six winnings, 23 goals against two conceded; the last match of the qualifyings, Brazil 1 x 0 Paraguay, had the largest official audience ever for a football match, with 183,341 spectators (unofficial reports say that the match Brazil 1 x 2 Uruguay, in 1950, had had nearly 200,000 attendants, but the official figure was "only" 173.850 attendants).

The problems of the team were outside the field.
The Brazilian coach during the Qualifying was João Saldanha.
First off, Saldanha was a journalist, and there was some lobby from other physical education professionals, who claimed that he was not supposed to be a football coach, even less to be the coach of the Brazilian team.
Next, Saldanha was a communist, an affiliate member of the Brazilian Communist Party; that was not a good credential, in a moment that the Brazilian regime was ruled by the Military, who had overthrown the previous President accusing him of trying to turn Brazil into a Communist country.

Then, there was Saldanha's character, very aggressive towards his critics.
Saldanha said that Pelé and Tostão could not play in the same team, as they had similar abilities; besides, Saldanha said that Pelé had sight problems, and should be dismissed. Many Brazilian fans disagreed with Saldanha's opinions.
Among those fans, there was the President of the Republic, the General Emilio Medici, who had a personal simpathy for Dario, a center forward who was not in Saldanha's plans; when Medici suggested, through the media, that Dario should be included in the team, Saldanha replied with a phrase which became folkloric: "I do not mess with his Cabinet, he will not mess with my team".

Mexico Juanito
Juanito, the Mascot

A few months before the Cup, Saldanha was fired and substituted by Jorge Mário Lobo Zagallo.
Zagallo had been the left-forward in the cups of 1958 and 1962, having scored a goal in the final match against Sweden in 1958. Later on, when he participated of the winning campaign of 1994 (as coach assistant), Zagallo would become the only person to be a four times world cup champion.

Zagallo listened to the voice of the streets. The Brazilians wanted all the stars playing together.
However, Saldanha was correct in saying that many players had similar functions. How did Zagallo solve the problem?

First, it must be said that Zagallo didn't do it alone. The team had a few very experienced players, whose opinions were decisive to define the team. Gérson, Carlos Alberto, Brito and Pelé (all of them in their late 20s) expressed their ideas to Zagallo who, fearing Saldanha's fate, accepted most of them.
Pelé and Tostão were fighting over a position; Pelé, then, kept his jacket #10, and Tostão became center forward (probably the most intelligent and skillful center forward Brazil ever had). Rivelino was also a middle-fielder; Zagallo gave him jacket #11 and he became a left-forward. Wilson Piazza and Clodoaldo were middle-defenders; to fit both in the team, Piazza played in the middle-center-field.

Even with this excellent group, the Brazilian fans didn't see the team as favourite. There was still frustration with the campaign of 1966. The defense was just average, at best, and there was not much confidence in any of the goal keepers.

The matches

In 1970, Brazil was champion with six winnings in six matches, an achievement which had not been seen before (Uruguay, in 1930, and Italy, in 1938, also won all their matches, but there were only 4 rounds till the championship) and was only outdone by Brazil itself in the 2002 World Cup, when the team won all seven matches.

There was no favourite to win the first match, Brazil x Czechoslovakia. The Europeans scored first. And stopped. Rivelino scored the first Brazilian goal in that Cup, and tied the match.

Still in the first half, Pelé (who, according to Saldanha, had impaired sight) came up with a play which became historic; from the Brazilian half of the field, he noticed the Czech goalkeeper outside his position, and shot a 60 meters long (200 feet) kick, which missed the goal by a few centimeters (see movie).

In the second half, the Brazilian team showed his power. Gérson, one of the best long-passers in Brazil History, served Pelé 50 meters away, who scored his first goal in the cup.
Then, Jairzinho, who would become known as the Hurricane of the Cup, scored two goals, making the final score of 4 x 1.

Jairzinho would score one goal in each and every one of the following matches of the 1970 Cup, an achievement still to be repeated in World Cups; Jairzinho was dubbed "the Hurricane".

Next, it was England, then current champion.
There was much mutual respect, which reflected in the final score. In the first half, the best play was not a goal, but a save; Jairzinho served Pelé, who managed to fix a precise head shot; then, in what is sometimes called the save of the century, Gordon Banks flew all across the goal line and, with a gentle touch, sent the ball outside.

In the second half, Tostão dribles three Englishmen and, without even looking up, serves Pelé (see moie; Pelé seems also to have a extra-sensorial perception and, without looking up, rolls the ball for a strong kick by Jairzinho. After the Brazilian victory, another scene which became historic: Pelé and Bob Moore exchanging jackets.

The third match was against Romania, the weakest in the group. Brazil soon scored 2 x 0, but slacked a bit, and Romania scored a goal. Pelé, as to put things in their places, scored 3 x 1; when the Romanians scored 3 x 2, Brazil had the game under control.

The next match (now in play-offs) was against Peru.
In 1970, Peru had one of the best teams in its History; the Peruvians had beaten Argentina, in the South American qualifyings. Moreover, Peru's coach was Didi, one of the best Brazilian players ever, who had led the Brazilian team in 1958 and 1962.
Brazil didn't care. With an excellent performance by Tostão (who scored twice, along with Rivelino and Jairzinho), Brazil won by 4 x 2.

By then, nobody doubt that Brazil was better than Uruguay, next adversary.
However, in 1950, Brazil was even more superior, and even so the Uruguayans won by 2 x 1 in Maracanã, causing the greatest tragedy of Brazilian football.

The match started out tight, because the Uruguayans were using excessive violence (in the second half, Pelé showed he wouldn't flinch: he was starting a counter strike near the middle field, and an Uruguayan came rushed toward him, with the clear intention of hitting Pelé; feeling the situation, Pelé slows down, waits for the Uruguayan, and, while pretending to have been pushed, thrusts his elbow against the chin; Pelé acted so perfectly that the referee noted a fault in favour of Brazil; the images show that, if Pelé had hit as he intended to, he would have broken the jaws of the adversary - and gained a free kick for Brazil).

To make matters worse, Uruguay scored first. The first half was ending, and the Uruguayans were reminding the Brazilians of the "tragedy of Maracanã".

Then, in the last minute of the first half, Clodoaldo scores and ties the match; that was, quite possibly, the most important Brazilian goal in that Cup; had Uruguay turned to the second half in advantage, there would be an enormous pressure over the Brazilian team, and time would be in favour of Uruguay.

In the second half, the Brazilian superiority prevailed. Jairzinho and Rivelino scored, Brazil won by 3 x 1.

When the match was 2 x 1, Pelé performed a play which certainly became the most replayed missed goal in the History of television. It is hard to describe, and most everyone has seen it already (see movie).

The final match was against Italy, with 110,000 spectators in the Azteca Stadium, Mexico City.
The Mexicans were sided with the Brazilian; besides the natural approximation between the latin cultures, it was clear by then that Brazil had a better team, and, to add to it, Mexico had been eliminated by Italy.
Italy had played a very tough semifinal against Germany; some say that that was one of the most beautiful matches in the world cups. The match went into overtime, and finished 4 x 3 to Italy. Besides, this match had been one day after the Brazil x Uruguay semifinal, meaning that the Italians had had less time to recover.

The first Brazilian goal happened at 18 minutes of first halt. Rivelino kicks the ball AND the heel of an Italian, to send the ball to Pelé. Pelé flies and scores, with a headshot. In an interview, the Italian defender who was marking Pelé said he could not understand how someone with the height of Pelé (1.70 m, 5'7") could go so high and stay floating so long.

Still in the first half, Clodoaldo tries an unnecessary drible, and Italy ties the match. Zagallo would say later that he felt like punching Clodoaldo, for "he was playing a World Cup final like a friendly match in highschool".

In the second half, Gerson scored the second, Jairzinho scored his customary goal and, at 41 minutes, the captain Carlos Alberto closed the score.
Read this FIFA report about Brazil x Italy.
For having won the world cup three times, Brazil was awarded the Jules Rimet trophy.

Other information

»FIFA archives of the 1970 World Cup.

»The World Cup and the Military Regime in Brazil. In 1970, Brazil was going through the darkest period of the dictatorial Military regime. Many analysts say that the Military used the success in the World Cup as a means to distract the attention of the population from the atrocities which were taking place in the prisons (today, it is well known and documented that torture was a common practice). These facts are the subject of a movie called Pra Frente, Brasil (Go Ahead, Brazil), produced in 1982.

»The ex-mayor of the city of São Paulo, Paulo Maluf, presented each player with a Volkswagen Beetle, as a reward for the championship. Decades later, the Justice decided that Maluf had given the present with public money, and sentenced him to refund the money to the city. This was the first stain the Maluf's career, which would become known as "a politician who steals, but get things done". In 2005, after decades of charges, trials and denials, Maluf was arrested.

»The Jules Rimet Trophy, which costed so much to conquer, was stolen, melted, and disappeared forever. The trophy was stolen NOT by an international gang, after a meticulous planning; instead, the job was done by three low class thieves, who made their planning around the table of a bar. Click the next link to read the whole story of the stealing of the Jules Rimet (the site is down; web address used to be
In brief, what the article said was: CBF, the Brazilian Football Confederation, had ordered a replica of the trophy; however, in 1983, the replica was guarded in a coffer, and the original was exposed to the public. CBF had ordered a bullet-proof glass box to protect the trophy; however, the box was simply nailed to the wall. One thief, while drinking some cachaça in a bar, invited two partners for the robbery. The three invaded the CBF headquarter one night, dominated the sole guard, unnailed the glass box and run away with the trophy. The 1.8 kg of gold of Jules Rimet was broken apiece before being melted and turned into gold bars. All persons involved were identified and trialed, but few are in jail.

»Tostão, the center-forward, was a physician by formation. He retired from football because of a displacement in his retina. In the 1990s, he became a somewhat respected football commentator.