Saturday, January 1, 2011

The match for the third place opposed Poland to Brazil, with most sympathies going to the Poles. Back in 1974 third place still mattered for public, media, and teams. Poland triumphed, winning by 1-0. Brazil at least had the heart to fight back, but for once justice prevailed.
Szarmach crashes with Leao. Mario Marinho jumps over them – Brazil was once again in the unfamiliar situation to keep the opposition from scoring.
Francisco Marinho Chagas clears the ball from Grzegorz Lato, but Poles kept coming.
Lato scores the winning goal. And his 7th at the tournament, making him the World Cup goalscorer. Even in terms of individual rewards, the result was just – Poland won with a goal by the best goalscorer. Sweet.
Rivelino tricks Deyna here, but at the end it was Deyna with the bronze – and deservingly so.
Brazil finished 4th. No magic came out of this team – it was defensive minded squad, victim of its own tactics. The big names – Rivelino, Jairzinho, and Paulo Cesar Lima – were just pale shadows of themselves. Paulo Cesar Lima was even dropped from the starters. If there was somebody to pity among the Brazilians, those were not the big stars, but previously unknown players: Francisco Marinho Chagas, the left full back; Paulo Cesar Carpeggiani, the tireless midfielder; and the unlucky old star Ademir Da Guia, who played his first and last World Cup, after finally making the national team (always in the shadows of greater players, Da Guia debuted for Brazil in 1966, but came to the World Cup with grand total of 8 caps, most of them acquired just before the finals.) At the end this Brazil squad was entirely forgotten: usually Brazilians rank their 1966 World Cup team the worst ever. The 1974 vintage is almost never mentioned, as if never existed, and one wonders what is worse – to be remembered as the worst or not to be remembered at all.
Starting as underdogs and finishing with bronze medals: from left – Masczyk, Gadocha, Musial, Lato, Szarmach, Kasperczak, Szymanowski, Zmuda, Gorgon, Tomaszewski, Deyna.
Only a month ago nobody knew the Poles, but now they were widely admired. They are perhaps the most deserving third-placed team in the history of the World Cups – playing better than everybody, except the finalists. Playing total football, just a notch bellow Holland and West Germany. Playing attacking football just a bit more traditional than Holland’s. Having a playmaker – Deyna – just a bit less imaginative than Cruyff and Overath. Having mobile midfielder - Kasperczak - just a bit less dangerous than Bonhof. Having defense just a bit weaker than the German one. Having a goalkeeper just a little bit less secure than Maier. Having a will just a little weaker than the German will and relaxed attitude just a little less than the Dutch. Poland was a little bellow Holland and West Germany by overall performance, football philosophy, and when individual players were compared. A little less than the best, but how much above the rest of finalists! What attack! Lato-Szarmach-Gadocha were the speediest and most lethal attacking formation. As for Jan Tomaszewski – he really should have sent his medal to Brian Clough. Cloughie called him ‘a joke’ just a year ago. Some joke… saving penalties among other heroics. Poland was delightfull to watch and scored tons of goals. In fact, Poland failed to score in only one match – against West Germany. And Grzegorz Lato was the king of thew scorers, although he had tough competition inside his own team – Gadocha, Szarmach, and Deyna were hardly just feeders for the goalscorer. And the coach – Kazimierz Gorsky worked long years, following his own plan and his own understanding of total football. Olympic title in 1972 and now – third in the world. Great reward for years of tireless work.