How the Brazil side of the 1982 World Cup became one of the most beloved in history


When Socrates came out on the pitch, all eyes were on the man they called ‘Doctor.’

As well as being a ridiculously talented footballer – his mesmerizing technical ability, power and rangy legs make him a marvel to watch – he is also an exceptionally intelligent man, earning a medical degree from the University of Sao Paulo earlier in his career.

Socrates’ ‘Doctor’ moniker stuck with him, even though his practices were unconventional; He was known to like a smoke and a drink, but his vices have never bothered him on the pitch.

He also captained the Brazil team at the 1982 World Cup, long before cable TV and streaming made every football game and player collection readily available. National teams and their star players would be shrouded in mystery when arriving at a World Cup, with A selection And its stars possess an almost mystical quality.

When Brazil took to the field for their first match of Spain 1982 against the USSR, resplendent in the famous canary yellow and blue kit, few fans knew what to expect.

After 90 minutes, however, they were mesmerized by what they saw – and Socrates, the team’s captain, brain and heartbeat, was at the center of it all.

Socrates in action against Argentina during the 1982 World Cup.

Despite going 1-0 down in the opening stages of the game, Brazil played a flamboyant and fluid style of football, reminiscent of the great Brazilian teams of the past, eventually winning 2-1 thanks to stunning late goals from Socrates and Eder, two . Names that often come up in eulogies about this side.

“We were all very, very optimistic about what would happen in the World Cup,” Juca Kfouri, one of Brazil’s most decorated commentators, told CNN Sport.

“First of all, because they were exceptional players, each with their own characteristics, their personalities were very, very strong and they were good, captivating and seductive.

“You have as an example ‘Doctor’ Socrates, a democrat, a militant of good things for his people,” Kafuri added of the man who was a leading voice in opposition to Brazil’s military government and who would become famous for his messages delivered. On headbands in Mexico four years later.

“The same for Falcao, ‘The King of Rome’, a guy who went to Roma and led them to the championship again 41 years after the last one.”

In Uruguay, 18 months earlier, Brazil was one of six teams competing in the World Champions Gold Cup – known as the “Mundialito” or “Little World Cup” – which consisted of five of the six World Cup winners in The time and the Netherlands, which replaced England.

Despite losing to host Uruguay in the Gold Cup final, Brazil beat West Germany – one of the favorites for the 1982 World Cup and eventual losing finalist – 4-1 in the group stages. It was a “categorical” victory, Khafuri recalls, “a footballing spectacle.”

As the tournament in Spain progressed, optimism in Brazil only grew. Comprehensive, comfortable victories over Scotland and New Zealand followed – 4-1 and 4-0 wins respectively – as Brazil progressed to the second group stage of the World Cup with a flourish.

Cerezo was considered among the best players of Brasilia's lauded 1982 team.

At the 1974 World Cup in Germany, Scottish commentator and author Archie Macpherson recalls a much different Brazil side to the one that last appeared in Europe for the 1966 World Cup in England.

“After 1966, the Brazilians were so enraged by the way they were treated on the pitch – especially Pele, whose legs you could barely see for bruises and hocks, he was brutalized in their opinion – they decided if they would come back to Europe , they would have to toughen up significantly,” recalls McPherson, author of Touching the Heights.

“So when they came back in ’74, it wasn’t the kind of Brazilian team that we really expected. They had one or two outstanding players … but they were tougher, and they mixed it up and instead of playing that with This flamboyant style they became, if I can put it that way, “Europeanized” simply to survive.

“So we wondered how they were [in Spain ’82] But the first three games they played, they clearly took to print, to the style, to the natural rhythm. So it was good to see them back in that way, and that’s why they started to gain support.

Scotland's John Wark defends Falcao during the group stage clash.

Macpherson’s Scotland were the unfortunate recipient of one of the most mesmerizing performances ever put together by the Brazil team. However, such was the beauty with which the team played, Macpherson was left with only feelings of awe once the match was over.

Despite once again being a goal behind, Brazil never changed its style of play, although Macpherson notes that the admirable stubbornness to only play fair football may have also led to the team’s downfall.

“We made the mistake of insulting the Brazilians by scoring after about 18 minutes,” McPherson laughs, “and then let them fly at us. In the center of the team is, of course, Socrates, the guitar-playing, Kate- Smoking medical man, who seemed to contradict every piece of medical advice, advice in his lifestyle.

“He represented the elegance and almost casual nature of the way the Brazilian started to play, relying on big feet and great speed.

“He was really at the center of everything. Maybe, his distinctive style made him a focal point to watch, but after David Narey scored the goal… the Brazilian went to town.

“I don’t think a thrashing of Brazil because it was wonderful to watch. It was not a defeat, it was the culmination of a demonstration of the best in football: the exhibition of skills, the beautiful way they played, and The fact that at 4-1 – and this was the greatest achievement of all – the best compliment of all – the Scottish supporters were far from downhearted.

Before the change in the World Cup format, the top two teams from six groups created a further four groups of three teams, with the four winners of the second group stage making the semi-finalists.

Zico celebrates his goal against Argentina.

Brazil was placed in a group alongside Paolo Rossi’s Italy and Diego Maradona’s Argentina, the defending champions from four years earlier.

After Italy beat Argentina 2-1 in the opening game, Brazil then cruised past them Albiceleste 3-1 thanks to goals from Zico, Serginho and Junior, with Maradona sent off and Ramón Díaz scoring a late consolation for the Argentine.

So, it all came down to Brazil against Italy on July 5 for a place in the 1982 World Cup semi-final.

“I have to say, Italy played better than Brazil and their victory was indisputable,” Cafuri says. “It’s just one of those things in football. They [Brazil and Italy] Could play 10 times, Brazil would win seven, draw two and lose on July 5. On that day, it was Italy’s day, that’s indisputable.

“The image of a great Brazil team remained anyway. I will never forget the headline from a newspaper in Andalusia, which said the following: “No one understands No longer the world; Brazil eliminated.'”

Italy twice took the lead thanks to Rossi goals, but Brazil fought back on both occasions through Socrates and Falcão. However, when Rossi completed his hat-trick 15 minutes before the end, there was no third Brazilian comeback.

The Italian forward Francesco Graziani tries to get to the ball with his head, but Brazil's goalkeeper Valdir Peres, assisted by his defender Oscar, knocks the ball away.

Macpherson described the result as “a huge anti-climax” for the neutrals watching at the World Cup.

“I remember being absolutely miserable, it was almost as if my home team had been beaten, my home country had been beaten,” McPherson recalls.

“I was so disappointed, like many others around the world, but I would insist that it was of their own making. There was nothing they could do to change the style for the circumstances.

“Nobody liked the Italians,” he added. “Italian football, of course, has the reputation of being cynical and defensive. Helenio Herrera, an Argentine, nevertheless established Catenaccio over Italian football and indeed over Europe to a large extent and that was the antidote to him, a complete antidote to him.

“That’s why they were so disappointed. I mean, I can remember not seeing that set of players again.

“Outside Italy itself, and I was there with Italian journalists, there was not a soul outside the group who wanted Italy to win. They asked Brazil to continue, hoping that it would prove that their brand of football could be maintained and be successful.

Brazil came from behind twice against Italy, but could not for a third time.

Before the first match of Brazil against Serbia in Qatar, the Seleção enters the tournament – as often – among the favorites to lift the trophy. However, such is the admiration for the ’82 team, Kafoury says even victory in Qatar would not put the current group of players on the same pedestal.

If Neymar were to win the Golden Boot en route to leading Brazil to victory in Qatar, Khafuri admits he would be considered better than the cherished star of 82, rising to the heights of Ronaldo, Romario and Rivaldo, but that he would likely Not being loved in the same way.

“The ’94 team won, the 2002 team won and they don’t compare to the ’82 team,” Kafoury says. “Now, of course, if you ask me if coincidence – I don’t believe it – but if the current team shows fabulous football in Qatar, it is possible, but nothing indicates that it will happen.”

The Brazilian players celebrate a goal against Argentina.

Despite the heavy loss to Italy, there is no sense of regret that the Brazilian team in 1982 failed to lift the World Cup trophy, only a remaining sense of pride that the nation has produced and was able to witness one of the most beloved Pages in history.

“I will not speak, I will let Pep Guardiola speak when he says that there is a national team, a football team, that has survived for 40 years as something spectacular,” says Kafuri.

“Today’s team has a maximum of one outstanding player, Neymar, who was not able to do what Socrates, Zico, Falcão, Cerezo did, four extraordinary players, four geniuses.

“So I think there is no comparison, the same way there is no comparison with the two teams that won later, from ’94 and 2002, the team of ’82 is better than both. The team did not win as the Netherlands did not Win in ’74, like Hungary didn’t win in ’54 – things just happen in football.


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