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Ball wizards: a retrospective look

In the period between the two world wars, Brazilian youth began to thrill Europe. Back in 1925, an extremely successful tour of the team from Sao Paulo took place, but the Brazilian national team at the World Championships in 1938 led the genuine enthusiasm of the Europeans, striking them with exceptional technique and overall inimitable style of the game. Part of the merit here belonged to specific individuals: the true athlete and wizard of the ball Leonidas, who first began to execute a blow with scissors, and the master of skilful defense Domingos da Giyya. The Europeans first saw the Negro masters and were inclined to write off their inimitable agility on the characteristics of the tropical climate and the hard coverage of the South American fields, which required a completely different level of possession of an “too naughty ball”.

The strength of the remarkable Brazilian national teams, replacing each other for half a century after the end of the Second World War, was not so much tactical innovations, as in the unsurpassed individual skills of their players. The promising beginning of the thirties finally got a worthy conclusion at the 1958 World Cup, where Garrincha and Pele played together for the first time.

Brazil has not lost a single match in which they took to the field together. Only one black player, Didi, came to the first meeting of the final tournament in the starting lineup, but by the final there were already three plus two mulattos, so Brazil became the first team to win the World Championship, in which representatives of different races played. The Brazilians will repeat their success in 1962, and then win another, perhaps the most impressive victory in 1970.

Talking about the fact that Brazilians have never paid much attention to the training process, that they are alien to a rational approach to football, is nothing more than a myth. Having sensibly estimated the mistakes made at previous world championships, in 1958 they not only carefully chose a place for their training base, but also specifically invited a psychologist to properly set up the players. It was rumored that the tests he had carried out showed that Garrincha’s aggressiveness was zero, and Pele was too childish — well, let’s not forget that he was only seventeen then. It is also not true that the Brazilians neglected the game in defense. They had an excellent goalkeeper Zhilmar and two very strong defenders – Djalma and Nilton Santos. Up to the semi-finals, the players did not miss a single goal. They used the “4-2-4” tactical scheme that had become fashionable, transferring another midfielder to the center of defense and periodically drawing off the left wing Zagalo to the center of the field.
But the five goals that had flown into the net of the French team in the semifinals, which became the rehearsal of the magnificent decisive match against Sweden, which ended exactly with the same score 5-2, made all commentators fairly suffer in the search for words and terms that can at least somehow describe such inimitable football spectacle. And now how can mere mortals compete with these heavenly beings ?!

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Parent Category: National
Published: October 17, 2014
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