Monday, November 8, 2010

Brazil, as reigning world champions, did not have to go though the trials of qualifying for the 1974 World Cup. This was comfortable feeling until 1973, when increasingly panic took hold: without official games, are ‘we’ good enough? The tour of Europe only increased the panic – the team displeased almost everybody in Brazil and severy criticism started. No surprise – in Brazil everybody is football authority and likes entertainting ang artistic football. The national team was just the opposite… it was winning, but not beautifully. Yet, Mario Zagallo was not sacked and his vision was different from the dominant Brazilian understanding of the game: he wanted ‘European’ kind of football – physical, disciplined, with strong defence. Therefore, he ignored the opposing voices, even the the heaviest among those – the voice of the President of the country. Pele was not called – he did not want to, but he was not pressed by Zagallo either. Carlos Alberto was not called as well. In general, Zagallo used the team he was building since 1972, based on players from Palmeiras and Internacional. True, both clubs were very strong at that time, but both were disliked by the fans – they played physical and disciplined football, but not beatiful one. However, it was the kind of football Zagallo was preaching… In retrospect it is strange that Brazil did not select different squad – after all, it is the only country in the world always having massive number of increadibly talented players. It is also strange that Sao Paulo was ignored – they had strong season, eventually winning the Brazilian championship, but only Mirandinha and Valdir Peres were included in the national team. Valdir Peres was deep reserve on top of it – the third goallie (obviously, only death of the other keepers suggests fielding a third goallie). But all of this is only retrospective and therefore – meaningless (Sao Paulo was not Brazil’s champion at the time of the World Cup, for instance). Zagallo was primerily concerned with goalkeepers and tried a few – it was the ‘weakest’ post, and there was some reason for that: Brazilian goalies were traditionally weak. The only ‘giant’ was the no longer playing - Gilmar. However, he created another stigma – as a measuring stick, he was too high… in comparisment any goallie was no good… Now, goallies were of little concern when Brazil was playing her trademark attacking – and scoring – football. But when the emphasize was placed on defense goallie suddenly became a problem. Or so Zagallo thought. It was his team and his vision… at the end, only 5 players of 1970 World champions were included in the team 1974: Piazza, Jairzinho, Rivelino, Paulo Cesar Lima – Caju, and Edu. Edu was not a starter in 1970 and was not considered a starter in 1974 either. So, four… According to Zagallo, Jairzinho, Rivelino, and Caju were better than anybody else in the world and with them – no problems in attack.
It was not only Zagallo – non-Brazilian pundits thought the trio lethal and Brazil – a heavy favorite for another title. After all, it was Brazil! The misery of their 1973 performance was viewed as temporary slip – it will be entirely different at the World Cup! Well, if there is a team with constant special aura in the world, it is Brazil – everybody always expects magic from Brazil. You just watch for the beginning of the real match.

Head coach: Mário Zagallo
No. Pos. Player DoB/Age Caps Club
1 GK Leão 11 July 1949 (aged 24) 19 Palmeiras
2 DF Luís Pereira 21 June 1949 (aged 24) 15 Palmeiras
3 DF Marinho Peres 19 March 1947 (aged 27) 5 Santos FC
4 DF Zé Maria 18 May 1949 (aged 25) 28 Corinthians
5 MF Piazza 25 February 1943 (aged 31) 44 Cruzeiro
6 DF Marinho Chagas 8 February 1953 (aged 21) 9 Botafogo
7 FW Jairzinho 25 December 1944 (aged 29) 73 Botafogo
8 FW Leivinha 11 September 1949 (aged 24) 18 Palmeiras
9 FW César 17 May 1945 (aged 29) 8 Palmeiras
10 MF Rivelino 1 January 1946 (aged 28) 55 Corinthians
11 MF Paulo César 16 June 1949 (aged 24) 42 Flamengo
12 GK Renato 5 December 1944 (aged 29) 2 Flamengo
13 FW Valdomiro 17 February 1946 (aged 28) 9 Internacional
14 DF Nelinho 26 July 1950 (aged 23) 2 Cruzeiro
15 DF Alfredo 18 October 1946 (aged 27) 1 Palmeiras
16 DF Marco Antônio 6 February 1951 (aged 23) 27 Fluminense
17 MF Carpegiani 7 February 1949 (aged 25) 5 Internacional
18 MF Ademir da Guia 3 April 1942 (aged 32) 8 Palmeiras
19 FW Mirandinha 26 February 1952 (aged 22) 3 São Paulo FC
20 FW Edú 6 August 1949 (aged 24) 41 Santos FC
21 FW Dirceu 15 June 1952 (aged 21) 4 Botafogo
22 GK Valdir Peres 2 February 1951 (aged 23) 0 São Paulo FC

The squad playing against Italy in 1973 - the only match Brazil lost during their European tour.
Top, left to right: Ze Maria, Wendel, Luis Pereira, Piazza, Clodoaldo, Marco Antonio, Pereira – assistant coach.
Bottom: Americo – the legendary masseur, Jairzinho, Rivelino, Leivinha, Paulo Cesar Lima – Caju, Edu, Da Silva – the team’s superintendant.
The photo lists wrong goalie – it is Leao, not Wendel, who was one of the tried goalies, but did not make the final squad. Clodoaldo also was discarted in 1974, reducing the surviving 1970 World champions to only five.