They are expected to dance on the pitch. They are expected to march in and perform the most thrilling form of football. They are expected to entertain. They are expected to hardly play any defense. They are expected to score the most amazing goals. They are expected not just to win every match, but to rout the other team. They are expected to have other teams’ fans cheering for them. They are expected to play “O Jogo Bonito” (The Beautiful Game). They play in the famous yellow and blue. They are Brazil.
Almost naturally, Brazil had won the World Cup a record five times. It was a runner up twice and came up third twice. Only twice, during the first FIFA World Cup in Uruguay 1930 and England 1966, it failed to get out of the group stage. And when that happened, it was not only a national tragedy, but the whole world asked what’s wrong.
Along the years, Brazil has produced some of the finest and best footballers the world has seen. It took 20 years after a third-place finish in 1938 until a skinny 17-year old came along and carried Brazil to its first cup victory. The ever-lasting Pele – to some the greatest player ever – played in four world cups and handed Brazil the title in three of them, the first team to reach that milestone. It was in Mexico 1970 when the Jules Rimet Trophy was Brazil’s to keep.
Pele, of course, is the national team’s strike leader, with 77 goals to his credit. He is followed by Ronaldo (67), Zico (66), Romario (55) and Neymar (53). The latter is the only active player in the prestigious list of Brazil’s 10 leading scorers. Being only 24, no one can quite bet against his chances of over taking the sitting king of his thrown. That list, of course, is filled with legends of the game, such as Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Tostao.
So How good is Brazil? Well, we can put it that way: The 1982 team, that badly disappointed and packed its bags way too early, is considered one of the all-time best. That team began the group stage with three wins, in which it scored no less than 10 goals and simply dismantled the Soviet Union, Scotland and New Zealand. In the second group stage, Brazil destroyed Diego Maradona’s Argentina 3-1, before dropping a 2-3 stunner to eventual champion Italy. Who played on that team? Only some of the game’s legends: Zico, Socrates, Junior, Falcao and Eder, to name just a few.
Or take, for instance, the 0-3 defeat by host country France in the 1998 final. The question what happened to Ronaldo in the 24 hours leading up to the match became a bigger story than the match itself. Ronaldo, by the way, is the World Cup’s second all-time leading scorer, with 15 goals to his credit, behind only Germany’s Miroslav Klose with 16.
After winning its first Olympic gold medal in Brazil 2016, the national team, as usual, consists of some of the leading and most exciting players on the planet. It has not only the world’s most expensive player in Neymar, but a host of players – among them Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Alex Sandro, Willian, Phillippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus – ensuring that Brazil will continue its commitment to O Jogo Bonito.