When people talk about Brazil, they talk about Pele, they talk about the famous Carlos Alberto goal of the 1970 World Cup, they talk about flair players and beautiful football. They’ve earned a reputation, but is that reputation justified?
No team has won the World Cup more often than Brazil, who have lifted the famous trophy on five different occasions. But this summer, despite a wealth of talent, the Brazilians have made very hard work of things with a laboured 1-1 draw against Switzerland and a highly fortunate 2-0 win against footballing minnows Costa Rica, with both goals coming in stoppage time after a brave resistance by their opponents.
When was the last time Brazil were actually any good at a World Cup? Way back in 1994, they began a sequence that saw them appear in three finals, winning two (1994 and 2002) and losing out in 1998 to France. The last of those was when Golden Boot winning Ronaldo was at his peak and almost single-handedly carried them to the title.
But that was 16 years ago. Since then, their record reads two quarter-final exits and a dismal fourth place on home soil in 2014, a tournament which also saw them humiliated 7-1 by Germany.
Further to that, those World Cup winning sides of 1994 and 2002 were not squads packed with the alleged Brazilian flair and “samba football” their reputation might suggest – they were successful due to tenacity and physical play, more associated with a country like England than the supposed genius of Brazil.
The 1994 squad contained players like Dunga, world renowned for being a tenacious, hard working battler and Romario – undoubtedly a world class striker, but nothing more than a goal hanging poacher, not a skillful dribbler or a man who will get the fans out of their seats.
The 2002 squad was packed with average cloggers like Kleberson, Gilberto Silva and Denilson, who showed so much potential in his young, but never delivered it. Even Rivaldo, who was undoubtedly talented, is only really remembered these days for cheating against Turkey.
Prior to that sequence of three consecutive finals, they hadn’t made a semi-final since 1976 and they hadn’t won the World Cup since 1970.
The odds of Brazil winning the World Cup at the start of this year’s tournament were as short as 5.00 – surely Brazil have got to be the most overrated team in World Cup history?