1982 Brazil Squad
On the eve of the World Cup, its only right that we have an overdue Sports feature as we revisit the 1982 World Cup, the Brazilian Team that made football an art-form, but lost nevertheless, thereby irreversibly changing the face of the modern game.
Brazil’s 1982 World Cup Team
To get to the semi-finals Brazil would have to beat Argentina and Italy.
The crowd packed into the Estadi de Sarrià in Barcelona had barely taken their seats after the national anthems when Rossi scored. He had broken his duck just when the team needed him most.
Zico, chased relentlessly by Claudio Gentile, who was like a second shadow, would finish the first half with his shirt torn after it had been tugged so much by his marker. But in a rare escape in the 12th minute, Zico provided Sócrates with a perfect assist for the equaliser.
The Italians, though, were rattling Brazil and disturbing the fluidity of movement in midfield that had been so crucial to the previous success. Under pressure from the swarming defence, Cerezo managed to mis-hit a pass in the 27th minute that worked as an assist for Rossi, who fired the ball past Waldir Peres to put Italy back into the lead.
The fact that Brazil could still rely on the draw was encouraging for those watching the game but the dressing room had a charged atmosphere at half-time. Frustration and anger were accompanied by Cerezo’s tears. The midfielder was so distraught and only calmed down after a long pep-talk by Sócrates.
On 68 minutes, the momentum swung again. A great sequence of moves by Zico and Cerezo pulled Italy’s defence out of shape and opened space for Falcão, who fired a piledriver past Dino Zoff to equalise. His emotional celebration became almost as iconic as the powerful left-foot shot that looked to be sending Brazil to the semis.
With a jugular vein almost popping from his neck, Falcão ran towards the Brazilian bench to celebrate and almost choked on the gum he had been chewing. “Some of the Italian players would later ask why I was scowling at them during the celebration, but I was just trying desperately to clear my throat,” he remembers with a smile.
With the game level, it seemed certain that the Seleção would now settle down and play with an eye on securing the draw, but for six minutes they gave no impression of wanting to change tactics. Santana replaced Serginho with Paulo Isidoro, which would in theory balance the defence a bit better, but Brazil still pressed for a winner, with the right-back Leandro playing almost as a centre-forward.
Italy’s creative midfielder Giancarlo Antognoni used the space created by Leandro pushing forward to win his team’s first corner of the game, in the 74th minute. He took it and the poor clearance fell to Marco Tardelli. His shot was nothing special but still made it to the Brazilian box, where Rossi had been left alone by a botched attempt to spring the offside trap; with time and space on his side, the striker made no mistake to secure his hat-trick, becoming only the second player ever to do so against the Seleção in a World Cup game.
Brazil were once again on the end of a huge World Cup upset and the shock of their exit hit them and their fans hard. Just like in 1950, when the team lost to Uruguay in the Maracanã when a draw would have secured the trophy, they had woken up on cloud nine only to crash from the heights by the day’s end.
The squad of 1982 had fired the public’s imagination to the point that they are often spoken in more revered tones than a squad that actually won the trophy – the 1994 team.
The fans were enchanted despite the loss, and they headed en masse to Rio de Janeiro’s international airport to welcome the team back home.
Twenty-two years later in Leeds, Sócrates would still struggle to express his feelings about that game. “We had a hell of a team and played with happiness. Then we came across the Italians. Rossi had three touches and scored a hat-trick. Football as we know it died that day.”
Falcão tried to exorcise his own demons by releasing Why Did We Lose? – a collection of mini-essays by him and some team-mates in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Italy game. It ends with a touching sentiment. “We lost that game but won a place in history,” wrote Falcão.
Thrill Of Victory & Agony Of Defeat
“Of course all of us suffered a great deal with the defeat but I am also grateful that I was part of one the greatest games in the history of football and part of a team that is associated with great football. It was a privilege to play alongside those guys.”
The outcome of this game saw a shift to a more clinical and defensive form of Play that has been perfected to what it is today…Nevertheless, as we stand at the cusp of yet another World Cup, we tip our hats off to the Brazilian squad that made the Stadium a theatre.
A Documentary on the 1982 Brazilian Squad, and its impact on the game can be viewed on our youTube Channel’s ‘Music, Sports & Culture’ Playlist.
I’m sure the latest round of World Sport’s most spectacular Tournament will be filled with its unique blend of thrills, cliffhangers and disappointments…May the best Team win!
The full version of this article appears in our Web Magazine ‘Disclosure’, an Afro-futurist Lifestyle & Collective Evolution Magazine, providing information missing from the mainstream and an increasingly Policed Social Media.
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