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


When Socrates came out on the square, all eyes were on the person called ‘Doctor’.

While he is a brilliant footballer – his impressive technical ability, strength and uncanny feet make him a marvel to watch – he was also an incredibly intelligent man, earning a medical degree from the University of São Paulo early in his career. received

Socrates’ name ‘Doctor’ stuck to him, though his actions were unconventional; He was known to enjoy smoking and drinking, but his vices never seemed to hinder him on the field.

He was also the captain of the Brazil team in the 1982 World Cup, long before cable television made the broadcasting of every soccer match and player collection easily available. National teams and their star players will be shrouded in mystery when they reach the World Cup A Seleção and its stars have an almost mystical quality.

When Brazil took to the field for their first match in Spain 1982 against the Soviet Union, resplendent in that famous yellow and canary blue kit, few fans knew what to expect.

After 90 minutes, however, they were stunned by what they saw – and Socrates, the team’s captain, brains and heartbeat, was at the center of it all.

In the 1982 World Cup, Socrates is in action against Argentina.

Despite going down 1-0 in the early stages of the match, Brazil played an exciting and fluid style of football, reminiscent of the great Brazilian teams of the past, eventually thanks to late goals from Socrates and Eder, two, 2 -1 won. names that often appear in eulogies on the side.

“We were all very, very optimistic about what was going to happen in that World Cup,” Juca Kfouri, one of Brazil’s most decorated commentators, told CNN Sport.

“First of all, because they were extraordinary actors, each in their own way, their personalities were very, very strong and they were kind, charming and charming.

“You have an example of ‘Doctor’ Socrates, a democrat, a fighter for good things for his people,” Kfouri said of the man who was a leading voice in opposition to Brazil’s military government and who would become known for his messages. four years later in Mexico on the head.

“The same goes for Falcao, the ‘King of Rome’, a man who went to Rome and took them back to the championship 41 years after the last one.”

In Uruguay, 18 months ago, Brazil was one of six teams in the World Champions Gold Cup – known as the “Mundialito” or “Little World Cup” – which included five of the then six World Cup winners. Brazil was one of them. Holland, which replaced England.

Despite losing to hosts Uruguay in the Gold Cup final, Brazil defeated West Germany 4-1 in the group stages – one of the favorites for the 1982 World Cup and eventual losing finalists. It was a “categorical” victory, Kfouri recalls, “a taste of football”.

As the tournament in Spain progressed, optimism in Brazil only grew. Wide, comfortable wins over Scotland and New Zealand – 4-1 and 4-0 wins respectively – as Brazil advanced to the second group stage of the World Cup with a boost.

Cerezo was considered among the best Brazilian players that the 1982 team boasted.

At the 1974 World Cup in Germany, Scottish commentator and writer Archie Macpherson recalls a Brazil side that last traveled to Europe for England’s 1966 World Cup.

“After 1966, the Brazilians were so angry at the way they were treated on the pitch – especially Pele, whose legs you could barely see because of the cuts and bruises, in their view it was brutal – they decided so they’re going to come back. to Europe, they’re going to have to be very tough,” recalls McPherson, author of Touching the Heights.

“So when they came back in ’74, it wasn’t the kind of Brazil team that we really expected. They had one or two great players … but they were tougher, and they mixed it up and instead of playing in that glorious style, they were, if I may say so, “Europeans,” just to survive.

“So we wondered how they were [in Spain ’82] but these first three games that they played, it is clear that they turned to the letters, the style, to their natural rhythms. So it was good that they came back like that and that’s why they started to support.”

Scotland's John Wark defends Falcao in the group stage clash.

Macpherson’s Scotland were the unfortunate recipients of one of the most impressive performances ever put together by the Brazilian team. However, such was the beauty with which that team played, Macpherson was left with only a sense of dread when the match ended.

Despite once again conceding a goal, Brazil never changed their style of play, although Macpherson points out that this admirable stubbornness to just play beautiful football is the team’s downfall.

“We made the mistake of insulting the Brazilians and scoring after 18 minutes,” laughs Macpherson, “and then they flew at us. In the center of the team, of course, Socrates, the guitar-playing medical man, chain- was a smoker, who seemed to be defying all medical advice in his lifestyle.

“He represented that elegance and almost casual nature of the way the Brazilians started to play, relying on big feet and great speed.

“He was really at the center of everything. Perhaps, his distinctive style made him a key point to watch, but after David Narey scored that goal … the Brazilians went to town.

“I don’t care about Brazil because it was amazing to watch. It wasn’t a failure, it was the culmination of the best demonstration in football: the display of talent, the fair way they played, and the fact that at 4-1 – and it was the biggest win of all and the best applause of all – the Scottish fans were heartbroken.

Before the change in the format of the World Cup, the top two teams from the six groups formed the other four groups of three teams, with the four winners of the second stage of the group forming the semi-finalists.

Zico celebrates his goal against Argentina.

Brazil are in the group alongside Italy’s Paolo Rossi and Argentina’s Diego Maradona, the defending champions from four years ago.

After Italy defeated Argentina 2-1 in the opening match, Brazil advanced Albiceleste 3-1 thanks to goals from Zico, Serginho and Junior, with Maradona sent off and Ramón Díaz scoring a late winner for the Argentine.

So, it all came down to a place in the semi-finals of the 1982 World Cup on July 5 against Brazil and Italy.

“I have to say, Italy played better than Brazil and their victory was unexpected,” says Kfouri. “It’s just one of those things in football. It [Brazil and Italy] Could play 10 times, Brazil will win 7 times, draw 2 and lose on July 5.

“This image of a great Brazilian team remained. I will never forget the headline of an Andalusian newspaper that said: ‘No one understands this world anymore; Brazil eliminated.’

Italy took the lead twice thanks to goals from Rossi, but Brazil fought back both times through Socrates and Falcão. However, a third Brazilian comeback was forced when Rossi completed his hat-trick 15 minutes from the end.

Italian forward Francesco Graziani tries to reach the ball with his head, but Brazilian goalkeeper Valdir Peres saves the ball with the help of his defender Oscar.

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

“I remember being so miserable, it was almost like my home team had been beaten, my country had been beaten,” Macpherson recalls.

“I was as disappointed as many others around the world, but I will insist that it was self-made. Under the circumstances, they could never have changed the style.

“Nobody liked the Italians,” he adds. “Italian football, of course, had this reputation of being cynical and defensive. Helenio Herrera, the Argentinian, nevertheless established Catenaccio throughout Italian football and indeed throughout Europe to a great extent and this was the antidote to that, the perfect antidote. of her

“That’s why they were so sad. I mean, I remember I couldn’t see this group of players again.

“Outside Italy itself, and I was there with the Italian journalists, there wasn’t a soul outside that group who wanted Italy to win. They were calling Brazil, hoping it would prove their style of football could be sustained. and be successful.”

Brazil came from behind Italy twice, but failed for the third time.

The Seleção went into this World Cup – as they often do – among the favorites to lift the trophy. However, such is the admiration for the 82nd squad, Kfouri says even victory in Qatar will not put the current squad of players on the same pedestal.

If Neymar wins the Ballon d’Or en route to leading Brazil to victory in Qatar, Kfouri admits he will be regarded as one of the best stars of the 82, elevating himself to the heights of Ronaldo, Romario and Rivaldo. , but it may not be loved in the same way.

Kfuri says: “The 94th team won, the 2002 team won and they cannot be compared with the 82nd team. “Now, of course, if you ask me if by luck – I don’t think so – but if by luck the current team shows amazing football in Qatar, it’s possible, but nothing shows that it will happen.”

Brazil players celebrate a goal against Argentina.

Despite that heavy loss to Italy, there is no sense of regret that the Brazilian team failed to lift the World Cup trophy in 1982, only a residual sense of pride that the nation made and was able to witness one of the most beloved sides in history.

“I’m not talking, I’ll let Pep Guardiola speak when he says that it’s a national team, a football team, that has remained something interesting for 40 years,” says Kfouri.

“Today’s team has at most one great player, Neymar, who can’t just do what Socrates, Zico, Falcão, Cerezo have done, four extraordinary players, four geniuses.

“So I think there is no comparison, in the same way with the two teams that won later, from ’94 and 2002, the team of 82 is better than both. That team is like the Netherlands in 74 didn’t win, like Hungary didn’t win in 54 – these things only happen in football.”


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