First of all, I’ll be posting these up until I run out on this subject. Secondly, I’m not that old. That’s why I’m relying on stories from my grandfathers and my father to back up some of the facts here. I got the chance to follow the 1998 World Cup and the others following that. I was 2 in 1994, but somehow I remember cheering for the team. Implanted memories, perhaps?
It’s funny to see how the Brazilian NT managed to take a huge decline in the fans’ preference. It often happens with clubs; only the most passionate ones follow the club through adversity anywhere in the world. Still, I’ve seen how the Brazilian NT fluctuated in that aspect as success and failure was brought in the performances. But I’m not sure if winning will be able to catch fans’ hearts again.
This first phenom happened in 1950. The Maracanazo, how it is known, is regarded as one of the most surprising and saddest results of all time. In a full Maracanã stadium, reportedly filled with 200,000 spectators, Brazil came in the match against Uruguay as the favourite. Playing at home, with the team’s superiority as an advantage and former results of both teams against mutual opponents in the strange system of finals in a group of 4 made everyone believe Brazil would also trounce Uruguay to earn their first trophy.
The underdog feeling gave Uruguay a boost, and they managed to win Brazil 2-1, also winning the World Cup. The commotion was so huge that many players decided to retire after the result, and CBD (which could be compared to CBF these days) changed the color of the uniforms, which were white shirts with white shorts, to the ones which Brazil use today.
The greatest deception in Brazil’s history gave way to a poor showing in 1954, and redemption in 1958. Not going as a favorite, even though Brazil had a great team (and Pelé at 17, as the youngest to play in a World Cup), helped the team to go through the competition and win games with safe results.
1962 made the fans forgive 1966 somehow. And 1970 is considered the greatest team of all time by many Brazilian fans and pundits worldwide. Many say Barcelona’s tiki-taka was inspired by that squad; even Pep Guardiola admitted that in 2011. It also received mixed filling from Brazilian fans, considering how Brazil was under one of the worst phase of a dictatorship, and the government’s use of the title as propaganda to show how the country was okay in a certain way.
1974 and 1978 squads were easily forgotten, but the 1982 is another one in the (not so) fond memories of most Brazilians. The 1982 WC began with Brazil as the clear favorite, with many players regarded as the best of their position. The results were good, and the team even managed to beat its biggest rivals and cup holders, Argentina, 3-1. The next opponent, Italy, came as a huge underdog. No one expected Paolo Rossi to bag a hat-trick to end the game 3-2 for Italy. And also crush Brazil’s hopes of earning a 4th World Cup title.
Brazilian fans felt 1950 all over again. But it wasn’t so bad; the country was going under a political reform, and was in sight of a transition to democracy (again). There was sadness, of course, but it wasn’t so crushing like what happened at the Maracanazo.
The attention toward the Brazilian NT wasn’t so high, and once again it went on a decline. 1986 and 1990 were regarded as the worst Brazilian squads ever landed in history. It might be fair, considering the poor results and low expectations. But the fact that Brazil was in a 24 year drought, without a World Cup trophy to separate “the legend to the mortals”, was aching.
So the 1994 World Cup came, featuring a Brazilian squad with not so enthusiastic fans. It is still considered one of the worst Brazilian squads, even though it won the title. The unexpected title made a positive commotion towards the fans. The baby celebration was used to the fullest and high hopes of a back to back championship, giving Brazil it’s “penta-championship” (5th title) was driving the squad to the 1998 World Cup in France.
I continue on part 2, where there are more details about the 1998 WC, the title in 2002 and another deception in 2006.