Although they did not finish in the first three in the last Word Cup in Munich four years ago, Brazil are joint favourites with champions West Germany to win next month's tournament in Argentina.
Although they did not finish in the first three in the last Word Cup in Munich four years ago, Brazil are joint favourites with champions West Germany to win next month's tournament in Argentina. Now the Brazilian squad is working hard to justify such tremendous backing.
SYNOPSIS: Brazil have won three of the last five World Cup tournaments. When they haven't entered the competition as champions, they have been favourites to win the Cup back. With the 1978 finals being played on their own continent in Argentina, Brazil are the team most people expect to provide the toughest opposition for European teams. There recent European tour proved Brazil are still a tough team to beat. They outplayed France for most of their match before conceding a late goal, but that setback was forgotten when Brazil beat the world champions West Germany on home ground.
Against England, the Brazilians drew 1-1, but it was their performance rather than result which made most impact at Wembley. Over the last 20 years, Brazil has proved beyond doubt they can consistently produce talented players of the highest order. But, in 1966, Pele retired from the competition and Brazilian skills vanished when they came up against tough-tackling European sides. When Brazil returned to Europe for the Munich World Cup four years ago, they showed a lesson had been learned.
Manager Claudio Coutinho has more talented players than in the 1974 team, but he insists that Brazil will now keep to their firmer, more disciplined tactics. But surely the skill of his star men will shine through.
Men like captain Roberto Rivelino. Now 32, he is still one of soccer's best midfield schemers. Rivelino no longer sticks to the left wing role he played in Brazil's winner 1970 team. He is free to move all over the pitch, often starting attacks with long, defence-splitting passes. Rivelino also still possesses one of the most dangerous shots in the game. Few defenders can hold the player when he is on form. Recently, he said he thought Brazil had an excellent chance of winning the World Cup. Winger Gil is another Brazilian strength. He has speed and a strong left foot.
Manager Continho feels his squad is in good shape. The confidence gained on their recent tour is vital, and he feels they are better equipped for the contest than most European teams. Brazil will play their Group Three matches in Mar Del Plata. They are in a group with no weak teams, but no outstanding opponents either -- Austria, Spain and Sweden. Brazil looks certain to power through to the next round. There is no doubt this Brazil team can win the World Cup, but the way they play is almost as important. The world expects something special from them. They must win with skill.