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Brazil in the World Cup 1986 - Mexico

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Matches and Players

Brazil 1986 Mexico World Cup

Sócrates, Elzo, Júlio César, Edinho (C), Branco and Carlos (GK);
Josimar, Muller, Júnior, Careca and Alemão.

The team: Carlos (GK); Édson, Júlio César, Edinho (C) and Branco; Elzo, Alemão, Júnior and Sócrates; Casagrande and Careca.
Substitutes: Paulo Vitor (GK), Leão (GK), Josimar, Oscar, Falcão, Zico, Edivaldo, Mauro Galvão, Silas, Valdo and Muller.
Coach: Telê Santana.

The matches
»Brazil 1 x 0 Spain
»Brazil 1 x 0 Algeria
»Brazil 3 x 0 Northern Ireland
»Brazil 4 x 0 Poland
»Brazil 1 x 1 France

The Preparation

Brazil played the Qualifiers against Paraguay and Bolivia; curiously, Brazil won the matches playing in the adversaries homes, but only tied the matches playing at home (in Maracanã).
See all results of the South America Qualifiers for the 1986 World Cup.

As one can easily see, many players from the 1982 World Cup were also present in 1986 (read this page to see more references about the players of 1986).
Among them, most of the principal players: Zico, Falcão, Sócrates, Júnior, Oscar. One could even say that there were some changes for better: Carlos, the goalkeeper, inspired more confidence than Waldir Peres; Oscar lost his position simply because Júlio César was playing much better.

Why, then, Brazil didn't perform in 1986 nearly as well as they did in 1982? The answer seems to be: the players were 4 years older.

1986 World Cup poster
Poster 1986

In 1986, Zico and Falcão were aged 33; Oscar, Sócrates and Sócrates were 32; the eldest was Leão, 36, the excellent goalkeeper who had been in the bench in 1970 and was a principal in 1974.

This had two consequences: first, these players could not run as much as they did four years ago; second, they took much more time to recover from injuries.
Another important detail: the matches were played under temperatures of 40 ºC, about 105 ºF.

Júnior, who was left-defense in 1982, was now a mid-fielder, where he wouldn't have to run as much.
Falcão and Zico got to Mexico recovering from injuries; none of them played a full match in that Cup; Sócrates was not injured, but, as a heavy drinker and smoker, his peak in physical condition had long gone.

There was also a controversy, whether Zico should stay with the team or should be dismissed before the Cup started; he stayed, on the premise that his physical shape would improve along the tournament, which didn't happen; in 1998, in a similar situation, based on his own experience, Zico would suggest that Romário sould be dismissed.

The coach was also the same: Telê Santana.

1986 World Cup Mascot
Mascot 1986

Telê quit after the loss to Italy in the 1982 Cup.

The first one to substitute Telê was Carlos Alberto Parreira; Parreira would eventually coach the Brazilian team to the championship in the 1994 World Cup, but he was not well succeeded in 1983, and quit after only one year.
Next one was Edu Antunes, Zico's brother, who stayed just a few months of 1984.
From January to May of 1985, Brazil was coached by Evaristo de Macedo, a Brazilian ex-player who, in the 1950s and 1960s, was one of the greatest idols in both Barcelona and Real Madrid; however, he also failed as coach of the Brazilian team.

Then, in June of 1985, attending popular request, Telê Santana accepted the invitation to return to the Brazilian team.
Brazilian fans, journalists and the football managers acknowledged that, despite the loss in Spain, Telê had prepared the best Brazilian team since 1970; contrary to other coaches, Telê defended the principle that, more important than save goals, is to score them.

The matches

1986 World Cup emblem
Emblem 1986

Because some players were injured, and also because he had learned some lessons in 1982, Telê Santana decided for a scheme a bit more cautious; so, in all matches, Brazil played with Elzo and Alemão, two obscure, combative players, in the mid-field. The best players, Zico, Falcão, Sócrates and Júnior, would play only as their physical conditions permitted.

Brazil won the first match against Spain, but needed the help from the referee.
When score was still 0 x 0, Spanish player Michel shot, the ball passed the goal line, but the referee didn't see it.

In the next matches, the talent of the veterans and the speed of Careca was enough to make Brazil beat Algeria, Ireland and Poland.
Against Ireland and Poland, the two nicest goals were scored by Josimar, the left-defense who started the Cup in the bench; Josimar was nearly anonymous among Brazilians before those goals; he returned to anonymity after the Cup.

Then, Brazil would play against France, which had just eliminated the then title holders Italy.

In 1986, France had Michel Platini (probably the best French player of all times), Giresse, Tigana, Amoros, Rocheteau, Papin; thanks to the talent of such players, that team had been dubbed "the Brazil of Europe".

That was the best performance of Brazil in that Cup.
Careca scored first, early in the first half; Brazil was in control of the match, but Platini scored the equalizer goal, right before the end of first half.

In the second half, the match continued fiercely disputed, despite the extreme heat.
At 25', Muller goes out, Zico is in. The first time he touches the ball, Zico sees Branco running into the area; French goalkeeper Bats could only stop Branco by hauling him down.

Now, who has to kick that penalty? Brazil had Edinho, Careca, Branco, all excellent penalty kickers. But Zico was the best of them all. Zico took the responsibility; he kicked just fine; Bats, an excellent goalkeeper, saved it.

The decision would be in penalties shoot outs.
First, Sócrates shot carelessly, and Bats saved; Stopyra, Alemão and Amoros scored. Zico asked to shoot, and this time he scored.
Next, Lady Luck capriciously helped the French; Bellone hit the crossbar, the ball hit the back of the Brazilian goalkeeper Carlos and entered the goal.
Branco scored. Then, giant Platini missed his shot; that moment, the world knew that either Zico or Platini, two of the greatest players ever, would carry the weight for losing that match. The series was tied again, but Júlio César, kicking the ball like a cannon, hit the bar.
Fernandez scored, and France won.

FIFA considered Brazil x France to be one of the classic matches of the World Cups. Once again, that group of some of the best Brazilian players ever would return home early. Worse still, Zico, Falcão, Sócrates and Júnior knew that they wouldn't have another chance.

Brazilians were of course disappointed, but not as much as in 1982.
First, because they knew that the team was not so good anymore. Besides, while in 1982 the Italian victory took the world by surprise, in 1986 Brazil knew that France was playing in an offensive style, much the way that Brazilians admire.

France would, however, be eliminated by Germany, also in penalties shoot outs. The luck which sided with the Frenchmen against Brazil, this time sided with the Germans (Germany was the first to miss a shoot, but France gave them the chances to recover).

The 1986 World Cup was, doubtlessly, the Cup of Maradona.
Among a group of mediocre co-players, Maradona led Argentina to the title practically alone. He would have entered football History for what he did at the Argentina vs. England match alone: a goal with the "hand of God" and the "goal of the Century", quite possibly the nicest goals of all World Cups.

In the final match, Germany had excellent players like Matthaeus, Rummenigge, Briegel and Voller, but nobody could stop Maradona in 1986.

World Cup 1986 - More information

»FIFA archives of the 1986 World Cup.

»Telê Santana was the only coach in the History of Brazilian football who lost a World Cup came back in the following one. Despite these two failures, there is a consensus in Brazil that Telê was the best coach in Brazil.
For a few years, Telê carried the fame of having bad luck. However, in 1992 and 1993, he was coach of São Paulo FC, which was the world champion club for two years in a row. Telê retired soon after those successful campaigns.

»Technically, there was a draw between Brazil and France (the penalty shoot outs was a means to break the tie). So, in three World Cups (1978, 1982 and 1986), Brazil lost only one match, against Italy in 1982; stretching a bit further back, in five Cups (1970 to 1986), Brazil lost only two matches.

»Zico is the greatest idol in History of Flamengo, and is known as one of the greatest players in Brazil History. He is known both for his talent and his professionalism. After the 1986 Cup, Zico, who was playing in Udine, Italy, returned to Flamengo, where he retired in 1990. That same year, he was invited to be Minister of Sports in Brazil; he was author of a law, called Lei Zico, which regulates the contracts between clubs and players. In the 1990s, Zico was invited by the Japan Federation to help develop football in that country; he did such a so big job that he was invited to be the coach of the Japanese team in the 2006 World Cup.