Monday, March 29, 2010

Brazil had her third national championship in 1973 and only from a great distance it looked good. Imagine this: 40-team league! Only in Brazil – the best football in the world and corresponding huge league. Must be fantastic. Fantastic it was – but not because of football. Machinations, manipulations, intrigues, petty and no so petty interests plagued Brazilian football – it was already on the road of sheer lunacy. Consequently, great football was increasingly rare. Palmeiras won their second title at the end with pretty much the same squad as the year before. So far, one thing was obvious: Sao Paulo was getting the upper hand and Rio de Janeiro was left behind. Which increased the lunacy.

Top, left to right: Eurico, Leao, Luis Pereira, Alfredo, Dudu, Zeca.
Bottom: Edu, Leivinha, Paulo Cesar, Ademir da Guia, Nei.Oswaldo Brandao coached the champions and the team was more than decent with strong players at all key positions: Leao between the posts, Luis Pereira directing the defense, Ademir da Guis in midfield, and Leivinha scoring constantly in front. It was also a bit different team than traditional image of Brazilian squad – instead of frivolous technical magic and fun, Palmeiras were disciplined and not particularly flashy. They had very skilled players, but played more team-oriented and defense-minded football. Luis Pereira was becoming not only the best Brazilian centre-defenseman, but a representative of new, more European kind of football: tough, pragmatic, and effective. By the end of the year Palmeiras players were key national players.