How the Brazil side of the 1982 World Cup became one of the most beloved in history



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When Socrates came out on the pitch, all eyes were on the man they called “The Doctor.”

As well as being an athletically gifted player – his grasp of technical ability, power and varied legs to watch was astonishing – he was also an extremely talented man, having earned a medical degree from the University of São Paulo earlier in his career.

The moniker of Socrates’ teacher clung to him, although his manners were licentious; he was known to smoke and drink, but his faults never appeared to hinder him on the pitch.

He was also the captain of Brazil’s team in the 1982 World Cup, long before streaming cable television made all football matches and player compilations readily available. The national teams and their star players have been shrouded in mystery since they arrived at the World Cup, since ” A Seleção and the stars having an almost mystical quality.

When Brazil took the pitch for Spain’s first match of 1982 against the USSR, resplendent in that canary yellow and blue kit, few fans knew what to expect.

After 90 minutes they were scrutinizing what they had seen – and Socrates, the leader of the team, the brain and pulse, was in the middle of it all.

Socrates in action vs.  Argentina during the 1982 World Cup.

Despite being 1-0 down in the opening stages of the match, Brazil played a fiery and fluid style of football, reminiscent of the great Brazilian teams of the past, in the end 2-1 thanks to two goals from Socrates and Eder. names which often appear in eulogies about the side.

“We are all very, very optimistic about the things that will happen in that World Cup,” Juca Kfouri, one of Brazil’s most decorated commentators, told CNN Sport.

“First of all, because the excellent players, each with their own characteristics, were very talented, very strong and kind, captivating and seductive.

“You have the example of ‘Doctor Socrates, a populist, a warrior of good for his people,'” Kfouri adds of the man who had been the leading voice against Brazil’s military government and who would become known for his messages delivered on the ropes in Mexico four years later.

“The same for Falcao, the ‘King of Rome,’ a guy who went to Rome and led them to the championship again 41 years after the last one.

In Uruguay, 18 months ago, Brazil was one of the six teams competing in the World Cup Gold Champions, which consisted of the “Mundialito” or “Mundialito” or Little World Cup), five of the six World Cup winners at the time and Belgium, who had replaced England.

Despite losing to host Uruguay in the Gold Cup final, Brazil beat West Germany – one of the favorites for the 1982 World Cup and eventual finalist – 4-1 in the group stages. It was a “categorical” victory, Kfouri recalls, “a spectacle of the ball”.

As the tournament progressed in Spain, hopes only grew in Brazil. Comprehensive, impressive victories over Scotland and New Zealand followed – 4-1 and 4-0 wins respectively – as Brazil progressed to their second World Cup with a flourish.

Cerezo was considered one of the best players in Brazil's 1982 lauded team.

During the 1974 World Cup in Germany, Scottish commentator and author Archie Macpherson remembers a very different side of Brazil to the one he had last been in Europe for the 1966 World Cup in England.

“After 1966, the Brazilians were so angry at the way they were treated on the pitch – especially Pele, whose skinny legs and flesh you could barely see, was highlighted in their gaze – that they decided to go back. that it would last for some time in Europe,” recalls McPherson, author of De Arcibus.

“So when they came back in ’74, we didn’t expect the kind of Brazilian team. They had one or two outstanding players … but they were tougher, and they mixed it up and for the game they had become boring with that kind of, if I can say it this way, only the “Europeans” survived.

“We were so surprised at how they were doing [in Spain ’82] but these three former games, which belong to style, to style, and to natural numbers, would have clearly contributed. So it was a good idea to get them back there and start winning.

John Wark defends Scotland's Falcons in a group stage clash.

Scotland’s Macpherson was the unlucky recipient of one of the most mesmerizing performances ever put together by the Brazilian team. Yet such was the beauty with which that team played, that Macpherson was left only with horror of mind.

Although once again returning to the goal, Brazil never changed the type of game, although Macpherson notes that this admirable determination to only play beautiful football can also lead to the downfall of the team.

“We made the anger of the insults of the Brazilian scorers after about 18 minutes,” laughs Macpherson, and then they let us go. In the middle of the group was, of course, Socrates, a harpist, a strange smoking medicine man, who seemed to contradict all the advice of the doctors, the advice in his life.

“He represented that elegance and the almost casual nature of the way that the Brazilians had begun to play, confident with his big feet and great speeds.

“He was really in the middle of everything. Perhaps, his style made him a unique place to watch, but after David Narey scored that goal… the Brazilians came to town.

“I don’t mind beating Brazil because it was amazing to watch. No defeats, the highest demonstration was the best in football: the exhibition of skill, and playing beautifully, and that in 4-1 – and this was the most important and done. to the best of all honor – the supporters of the Scots were far from heart. ”

Before the change in the format of the World Cup, the top two teams from the six groups went on to create another four groups of three teams, with the four winners of the second group constituting the semifinalists.

Zico celebrates his goal against Argentina.

Brazil were placed in a group with Italy and Diego Maradona’s Argentina alongside Paul Rossi, the defending champion from four years earlier.

After Italy had beaten Argentina 2-1 in the opening match, Brazil were then flattered White 3-1 with goals from Zico, Serginho and Junior, with Maradona scoring and Ramón Díaz scoring a late consolation for the Argentines.

So it all came down to Brazil in Italy on July 5 for a semifinal spot in the 1982 World Cup.

“I’m going to say that Italy played better than Brazil and their victory was undoubted,” Kfouri says. “It’s one of those things in football. They [Brazil and Italy] He could play 10 times, Brazil won seven, drew two and lost on July 5. That day was Italy’s day, as is indubitable.

“This image of the great team of Brazil remained anyway. I will never forget the newspaper in Andalucia, which said the following: ‘No one understands this world anymore; Brazil should be removed.'”

Italy took the lead twice with goals from Rossi, but Brazil fought back both times through Socrates and Falcão. But when Rossi completed the trick 15 minutes before the end, there was no third Brazilian comeback.

Italian forward Francesco Graziani tries to get the ball with his head, but Brazil goalkeeper Valdir Peres, assisted by defender Oscar, punches the ball back.

Macpherson described the outcome as a “huge anti-climax” for the media watching the World Cup.

“I remember feeling miserable, almost like my home team was beaten, my country was beaten,” Macpherson recalls.

“I am so disappointed, like many others around the world, but I confess that I will do it. They could not at all change their style to suit their circumstances.

“Nobody liked the Italians,” he adds. “Italian football, of course, had this dogmatic and defensive idea. Helenio Herrera, the Argentine, nevertheless established Catenaccio through Italian football and indeed throughout Europe to a large extent, and this was the antidote to him.

“That’s why they’re so confused. I mean, I remember that I couldn’t see the players again, except for myself.

Outside Italy itself, and I was there with the Italian newspapers, there was not a soul outside that group who wanted to conquer Italy. They encouraged Brazil, they hoped that this would be the type of football that could be maintained and be strong.”

Brazil came from behind twice against Italy, but couldn't do it the third time.

The Seleção went into this World Cup – as is often the case – among the favorites to lift the trophy. However, such is the surprise of the ’82 team, Kfouri says that even the victory in Qatar does not put the same base on the group of players.

If Neymar was to capture the Booz d’Or on the way to lead Brazil to victory in Qatar, Kfouri admits that he is considered better than the beloved star of ’82, elevating himself to the heights of Ronaldo, Romario and Rivaldo, but he wants first. probably not to be loved in the same way.

“The team” won 94, the team won in 2002 and did not compare with “82”, says Kfouri. “Now, of course, if you ask me if it’s possible – I don’t believe it – but if by chance the current team in Qatar shows a fabulous football, it’s possible, but it doesn’t mean that this will happen.”

Brazilian players celebrate the end against Argentina.

Despite that drop loss to Italy, there is no sense of pain that the Brazilian team failed to lift the World Cup in 1982, only the remaining feeling of pride that the nation produced and could see in itself one of the most beloved parts. history

“I’m not talking, I’m talking about Pep Guardiola when he says that there is a national team, a football team that has survived for 40 years something spectacular,” Kfouri says.

“Today’s team has the most important player, Neymar, who cannot do what Socrates, Zico, Falcão, Cerezo did, four extraordinary players, four talents.

“I don’t think there’s any comparison, just no comparison with the two teams that won later, from ’94 and 2002, from ’82 both are better teams. That team didn’t win like Belgium in ’74, like Hungary didn’t win in ’54, these they happen in football.

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