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May 21, 2008

Soccer: Brazilian National Football Team


Soccer: Brazilian National Football Team

When the Englishman, Charles Miller, landed in Brazil at the end of the nineteenth century carrying a football and hoping to start the new game of soccer that was becoming popular in England, it could never have been imagined that a South American country would become the world's great footballing nation. The sport spread like wildfire and was soon played on the grass of the elegant clubs and on pitches. The English and their descendants started the first teams and formed the first leagues - soccer was on its way to becoming Brazil's national passion.Brazil Soccer Team logo

During the 1920's, Brazil was already established as a force in South America soccer. In the 1930's, European fans were already being enthralled by the football of Domingos da Guia, a full-back with a talent for attacking and dribbling the ball out of his own area; with Leônidas da Silva, who achieved international fame by inventing the incredible bicycle kick; and with Friedreich, a formidable striker who was said to have scored more than one thousand goals.

The first world title was some time in coming Brazil's way. Whilst the nation had great talent in relation to soccer, sport was in administrative disarray. Early in the 1930's the establishing of professionalism divided the clubs. Teams competed abroad without even the slightest evidence of structure. The chance to win a major title came in 1950 when Brazil hosted the World Cup and built the largest stadium in the world, the Maracanã.


Defeat by Uruguay in the final showed just how great the national passion really was. The Maracanã Stadium fell silent before erupting into sobs. There were heart attacks, brawls and even attempted suicides. Stars from the 1950 team, such as the goalkeeper Barbosa, the fullbacks Pinheiro and Juvenal and the attackers Zizinho, Ademir and Jair - all first line players - were greatly affected by the tragedy. However, Brazil recovered eight years later. With João Havelange - the present chairman of FIFA - at the head of the Brazilian Sporting Confederation (CBD), Brazilian soccer's governing body, the Brazilian team set off to compete in the Swedish Cup with a level of organization never seen before, led by the "Victory Field Marshal", Paulo Machado de Carvalho.

The golden age of Brazilian soccer had arrived. The nation became world champion in 1958 with a dream team: Gilmar, Djalma Santos, Bellini, Nilton Santos, Didi, Garrincha, Vavá, Zagallo and of course, Pelé, twice world champion of clubs with Santos, the team comprising of Pelé, Coutinho, Mengálvio, Gilmar and Pepe. Arguments raged in Brazil as to whether Santos was the best team or whether it was Botafogo, with Garrincha, Nilton Santos, Didi and also Amarildo's team, Quarentinha. A combination of the two helped Brazil to become world champion two years running in Chile in 1962.

The third winning of the championship in Mexico in 1970 brought the golden age to a close with a team considered by journalists to be the best of all time: led by Pelé with Carlos Alberto, Clodoaldo, Gerson, Jairzinho, Rivelino and Tostão. Brazil continued to be a source of great players - Paulo César, Reinaldo, Falcão, Sócrates and Cerezzo - but the national team failed to win titles. The clubs were also founts of Brazilian talent: Flamengo with players such as Zico, Júnior, Leandro, Andrade, Adílio and Tita, was world champion in 1981 and two years later it was the turn of Grêmio, the team that included the veteran, Paulo César, Mário Sérgio and Renato.

Twice the team got as far as the Olympic final only to lose. However, from the winners of the silver medal in Los Angeles in 1984 and Seoul in 1988, emerged the basis of the first Brazilian team to become champion four times in the 1994 World Cup held in the USA. The goalkeeper, Taffarel, the captain Dunga and the striker Romário - perhaps the most important players in that campaign - formed part of Olympic teams. At the Olympic Games in Atlanta, Brazil's team, headed by the four-time world champions Aldair and Bebeto, and by the biggest revelation of our football at present, Ronaldinho, won the bronze medal. In France, in 1998, Brazil was the World Cup's vice champion.

Fuelled by the scintillating play of the "Three R's" (Ronaldo, Rivaldo, and Ronaldinho), Brazil won its fifth championship at the 2002 FIFA World Cup held in South Korea and Japan. When the groups were drawn, Brazil seemed to have been lucky; Brazil's adversaries would be Turkey, China and Costa Rica. At the end, it turned out that Turkey finished the tournament in third place, showing that indeed Brazil's group was stronger than most had expected. Brazil went on beating all three opponents, scoring 11 goals and conceding only three, and topping the group.

Next they defeated Belgium 2-0, which had been the most difficult match for Brazil in the tournament. Against England in the quarter finals, Brazil won 2-1. Ronaldinho scored a remarkable goal and assisted teammate Rivaldo for the victory goal, but was then sent off. The semifinal was against Turkey, which Brazil had faced in their group. Again, this match was difficult, as Brazil won 1–0 with a goal by Ronaldo. Rivaldo had scored one goal each in all five game up to this one but did not manage to hit the target in the sixth. He had seemed all set to repeat Jairzinho´s great achievement in 1970 when he scored in every game of the World Cup.

The final was between two of the most successful teams in the competition's history: Germany and Brazil. Either Germany (or West Germany) or Brazil had played in all World Cup finals since 1950 - except 1978 (If the last game of 1950 is considered to be a proper final). German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn had been the tournament's best keeper, but could not maintain that level of play, as Ronaldo vanquished his France '98 demons, scoring both goals in the Brazilian 2-0 triumph.

These teams had never played each other in the World Cup before. There was however a match between Brazil and East Germany in the 1974 FIFA World Cup. Brazil won 1–0.

FIFA World Cup victories
Winner (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)
Runners-Up (1950, 1998)
Third (1938, 1978)
Fourth (1974)

FIFA World Cup appearances
(1930, 1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006)

Continental titles
Copa America (1919, 1922, 1949, 1989, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2007)

Copa America (1921, 1925, 1936, 1945, 1946, 1953, 1957, 1959, 1983, 1991, 1995), CONCACAF Gold Cup (1996 USA, 2003 USA/Mexico)

Best Results
FIFA U-20 World Cup Final (1983, 1985, 1993, 2003), FIFA Futsal World Cup Final (1989, 1992, 1996), FIFA Confederations Cup (1997, 2005), FIFA U-17 World Cup Final (1997, 1999, 2003), FIFA Club World Cup (2000, 2005, 2006), FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Final (2006, 2007)

Olympic Football Tournament Final (1984, 1988), FIFA U-20 World Cup Final (1991, 1995), FIFA U-17 World Cup Final (1995, 2005), FIFA Confederations Cup (1999), FIFA Club World Cup (2000), FIFA Futsal World Cup Final (2000), Olympic Football Tournament Women Final (2004), FIFA Women's World Cup Final (2007)

FIFA U-20 World Cup Final (1977, 1989, 2005), FIFA U-17 World Cup Final (1985), Olympic Football Tournament Final (1996), FIFA Women's World Cup Final (1999), FIFA Futsal World Cup Final (2004), FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Final (2005), FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Final (2006)

Olympic Football Tournament Final (1976), Olympic Football Tournament Women Final (1996, 2000), FIFA Confederations Cup (2001), FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Final (2002, 2004)

General Information
FIFA Trigramme: BRA
Country: Brazil
Country (official name): Republica Federativa do Brasil
Continent: South America
Capital: Brasilia
Major cities: Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Fortaleza, Nova Iguacu, Recife, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Belem, Goiania, Campinas, Guarulhos
Currency: Real
Official languages: Portuguese
Motto: Order and progress (Ordem e Progresso)

Geographic Information
Surface area: 8,511,965 km²
Highest point: Pico de Neblina 3,014m.
Neighbouring countries: Uruguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, French Guiana, Surinam
Neighbouring seas and oceans: Atlantic Ocean

Population (in millions): 182
Density (inhabitants per km2): 21.39
Average age (in years): 27
Life expectancy at birth (in years): 71.13

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