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Brazil in the World Cup 1982 - Spain

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Matches and Players

Brazil 1982 USA Cup

Valdir Peres, Leandro, Oscar, Falcão, Luisinho and Júnior;
Sócrates, Cerezzo, Serginho, Zico and Éder.

The team: Valdir Peres (GK), Leandro, Oscar (C), Luisinho and Júnior; Toninho Cerezzo, Falcão, Sócrates and Zico; Serginho and Éder.
Substitutes: Paulo Sérgio (GK), Carlos (GK), Edevaldo, Juninho, Edinho, Pedrinho, Batista, Paulo Isidoro, Renato, Roberto Dinamite and Dirceu.
Coach: Telê Santana.

The matches:
»Brazil 2 x 1 Soviet Union
»Brazil 4 x 1 Scotland
»Brazil 4 x 0 New Zealand
»Brazil 3 x 1 Argentina
»Brazil 2 x 3 Italy

Read also information about the World Cup Brazil 2014:
»Host Cities which will stage the matches.
»Stadiums; updated information about all stadiums of the World Cup.
»Teams; 32 countries will be in Brazil.
»Tickets; how and where to buy, what's the price.
»Confederations Cup 2013, a prelude of the World Cup.

The Preparation

Brazil played the Qualifiers against Venezuela and Bolívia; as it was the norm those times, Brazil won all four matches.
See all results of the South America Qualifyings for the World Cup 1982.

The Brazil team of 1982 often appears in surveys as one of the best Brazilian teams of all time (other candidates are the teams of the World Cups of 1970 and of 1958).
The team had a rare combination (even in Brazil) of talented players and an offensively minded coach.

1982 World Cup mascot
Mascot 1982

Telê Santana took the command of the Brazilian team in 1980.
His philosophy was that football should be a show, both for those playing and for those watching the matches. He was radically against violent or otherwise unfair play.

And Telê had some players to go along with him.

Zico is one with highest number of caps in Brazil and most goals scored.
Falcão had led his team Internacional to the three-champíonship in Brazil, and became known as "King of Rome", for having led the Roma, from Italy, to the scudetto.
Sócrates, a physician with name of philosopher, combined talent and intelligence.
Toninho Cerezzo, besides skillful, was said to have an extra pair of lungs. Falcão, Zico and Sócrates appeared in the list of 10 best players of the 1982 Cup.
The team had still the powerful shots of left-forward Éder, the abilities of Júnior, the experience of Oscar.

1982 World Cup emblem
Emblem 1982

The team had a few leaks, though.
The goalkeeper, Valdir Peres, didn't inspire much confidence even among fans of his team, São Paulo. Many defended that Leão, who had played in the cups 1974 and 1978, and would still play in 1986, should have played in Spain.
The center-forward, Serginho, was tamed by Telê Santana; Serginho was a kind of bad boy, used to playing tricks with the nerves of the adversaries to create goal opportunities; in the team of Telê, this kind of attitude was prohibited; Serginho, one of the best strikers of his time, lost much of his potential. The favourite of Telê for the position was Careca, who would play later in the cups of 1986 and 1990; Careca suffered a serious injury already in Spain, and had to be substituted by Roberto Dinamite, who had been Brazil's striker in the 1978 Cup; rumours of the epoch said that Roberto's wife had links with black magic, and had arranged for Careca's injury.

Before the Cup, there was some discussion in Brazil whether the four stars (Zico, Socrates, Falcao and Cerezzo) should play together, as they were all offensive.
Matters were complicated by the fact that Cerezzo could not play the first match (he had been expulsed in a previous official match); his substitute, Paulo Isidoro, was doing a good job in occupying the right-forward position; by putting all four together, there would be no one occupying that position.

Telê stuck to his philosophy, and Brazil would play in an as offensive as possible way.
In 1981, after winning all matches of the qualifyings, Brazil did an European tour, and beat England, France and Germany at their homes; the team would not lose any match until the Cup kicked off; Brazil arrived to Spain as the favourite to win the World Cup.

The matches

Brazil won the first match, 2 x 1 against Soviet Union.
The Soviets didn't shoot much, but in one of the few times, Valdir Peres failed and let the ball in. Sócrates scored at 28' of second half, and Éder at 43'. The team played well, but the victory wasn't easy.

For the second match against Scotland, as planned, Paulo Isidoro was out and Toninho Cerezzo went in. Brazil won by 4 x 1, and indeed played well; Zico, Oscar, Éder and Falcão scored. Fans and media approved the scheme, and Paulo Isidoro was already forgotten.

Next, a very easy match against New Zealand. The kiwis were more concerned in soliciting autographs than beating Brazil. Zico scored twice, Falcão once and Serginho, at last, score a goal. Fans and media were euphoric.

Then, Brazil would face the most traditional rival, Argentina.
The Argentinians were the title holders, and most of the champion players of 1978 were in Spain.
Besides, they had brought to Spain a young player who was promising to shake the world of football (which he indeed did in 1986, in Mexico), called Maradona.
The Argentinians had already been beaten by Italy, but, for Brazilians, Argentina was the only rival which could prevent us from reaching the final.

1982 World Cup poster
Poster 1982

The match against Argentina was easier than anticipated.
Zico scored 1 x 0, early in the first half. Brazil dominated the whole game, Serginho and Júnior scored 3 x 0. Argentina scored their at the last minute. Maradona was sent off for violent play.

Now, not only Brazil, but the entire World was euphoric with the Brazilian team.
Who could stop us? Even if the adversaries closed on Zico and Sócrates, Falcão and Éder would gain more room to play. Cerezzo had a powerful long distance shot, and Júnior could appear by surprise at any time. The team had an impressive fitness shape. The coach, Telê, made it clear that Brazil should keep an agressive scheme.

On July 5th 1982, the Brazilian team entered Sarriá Stadium, in Barcelona, thinking they should fullfil a formality: win the match against Italy.
Actually, even if the score finished equalized, Brazil would move ahead. The adversary in the semi-finals would be Poland, and his main player, Boniek, had been expelled and wouldn't play the next match; the path to the final was paved.

The Italians had had three ties in the three matches of the first stage (against Poland, Cameroon and Peru), and only qualified to the next stage because they had scored two goals, one more than Cameroon.
Right (Brazilians thought), they had been lucky to win Argentina, but a lightining never strikes twice the same place.
Italy had hosted the Eurocup 1980, and finished fourth. Italy finished the qualifyings for the World Cup in second place, after Yoguslavia. It seemed very unlikely that they could beat Brazil.

Until then, Italy had scored only four goals in four matches of the World Cup (Brazil had scored 13).
The Italian striker was, supposedly, Paolo Rossi; Rossi had been involved in a lottery scandal, and spent two years off football fields before the cup; he had not scored any goal until the match against Brazil. Brazilians were not much concerned with Rossi.

It didn't take long after the match started for reality to crash on Brazilian heads.
At 5', the Brazilian defense gets confused, Paolo Rossi shoots from outside the area, and scores the first Italian goal. To save that shot would be difficult for any good goalkeeper, but it was impossible for Valdir Peres. Brazil had taken few goals along the Cup, but truth is that the adversaries had not shot many times; Brazil was so proud of their offensive power, now they would realize (too late) that a good goalkeeper is fundamental.
Seven minutes later, Zico passes to Sócrates, who scores; things seemed to be going back to normality.

However, at 25', the ball is crossed into the area. Valdir Peres was not specialist in high balls, either. Paolo Rossi doesn't even have to jump to head the ball into the goal and put Italy ahead again. Until the end of first half, Brazilians had enough time to realize that the match was very far from being easy; rumours go that Cerezzo and Leandro had nervous breakdown during the half time break.

The game continued tough in the second half.
The Italians had an exceptional defensive scheme; possibly, a wild Serginho would be more efficient now than a tamed one. Besides, the Italians were very swift in counter attacks, and any shoot seemed dangerous for Valdir Peres.

Then, at 23', when despair was already building up, a relief came: Falcão kicks the ball like a cannon and beats Italian goalkeeper Dino Zoff. The usually elegant Falcão celebrated the goal like a crazy.

Now, what was the best thing to do?
The match was tied, only 20 minutes to go. A draw was good enough for Brazil. Now it was the time for Italians to despair.
Brazil had excellent players to reinforce the defense. Edinho, for example, was so good that he would be captain of the team in 1986; or Batista, who had stopped Maradona in the Argentina match. If they had substituted Serginho or Éder, the Italian's job would be much more difficult.

But, the Brazilian coach was Telê Santana.
He did not substitute anyone, and he did not even tell anyone to retreat. The Brazilian team continued with the same plan: being agressive to win the match.

At 30', Paolo Rossi scored his third goal in the match.
Italy won by 3 x 2. Brazil returned home.

Much has been written about that match.
FIFA considered Italy 3 x 2 Brazil one of the classic games of all World Cups.
See what The Telegraph, The Guardian and BBC have to say.

Most Brazilians consider the result unfair; but was it?

This was the Italian team that beat Brazil: Zoff; Gentile, Scirea, Colovatti (Bergomi), Cabrini; Tardelli (Marini), Oriali, Antognoni, Graziani; Conti, Rossi.

It was a hell of a good team!!!

It should not be so surprising that they would win any other team, including Brazil. Zoff was aged fourty, his experience was present when Italy needed. Cabrini, Tardelli, Antognoni, Graziani, Conti are all good individually, much more as a group. Paolo Rossi did what is expected from a striker: score goals when opportunities arise.

Italy won Poland by 2 x 0 in the semi-finals, two goals by Paolo Rossi.

Italy won Germany in the final by 3 x 1 (first goal by Rossi) and deservedly became the champion of the 1982 World Cup.

World Cup 1982 - More info

»FIFA Archives of the 1982 World Cup.

»Right after the match, Telê embraced each and every player, as they left the field. Telê took all responsibility for the loss.
He quit the National team after the 1982 Cup; the Brazilian Federation tried other coaches, but Telê, by popular request, returned to command the team in the 1986 Cup.

»Along with Telê, some players who had planned to retire after the World Cup 1982 decided to give another try in 1986: Zico, Falcão, Júnior and Sócrates. among them.

»If any player was stigmatized for the loss, this was Toninho Cerezzo.
He was considered culprit for the first Rossi's goal; he nearly broke down during the match.
Thanks to his excellent physical conditions, he continued playing until early 1990s (he helped São Paulo FC become world champion in Tokyo), but he was not called to the 1986 team.

»Brazilian fans and journalists recognize that this team was excellent. What happened to Brazil in 1982 was similar to what had happened to Holland in 1974 and Hungary in 1954: the best team had not won. However, this was also written in the newspapers of the epoch: Brazil had underestimated Italy, a bit more of caution would be useful.

»There was a Brazilian present in the final match: the referee Arnaldo César Coelho. Arnaldo is probably the best ever Brazil's referee. Today he is a commentator in TV Globo. In 1986, another Brazilian referee was in the final match: Romualdo Arpi Filho.