Top 100 World Cup Moments (From the Aussie P.O.V.): 50-Brilliant Brazil Blow It (1982)

Italy v Brazil in the 1982 World Cup

The Brazilian side that had been forged together for the 1982 World Cup campaign was quite awesome in all honesty. They featured the likes of the temperamental yet brilliant ‘White Pele’ Zico (who Hiddink would coach against at Germany 2006) along with Falcao, Serginho and legendary captain Socrates who captained his country with pride, smoked a pack a day and actually was a qualified Doctor.

Icon: Socrates was towering star for Brazil

Tele Santana coached the side and is widely seen as the coach to be behind “jogo bonito” with his side playing some quite exquisite football. Italy on the other hand were a rabble. Much like before the 2006 tournament there had been a betting and bribery scandal go right through Serie A with many players, clubs and officials fined or suspended. One such player to be sanctioned was the very much maligned Juve striker Paulo Rossi who was way out of form for both club (1 goal in 3 games in the 81/82 season thanks to his bribery ban) and country.

He was also being hounded by the scapegoat loving Italian press when the tournament kicked off in Spain due to the fact he had come straight back in to the Italian squad. Brazil had cruised through their group in the first phase of the tournament. They had come back from 1-0 down to beat a very good Soviet side 2-1, had then gone 1-0 down to Scotland before picking them apart 4-1 and then taken New Zealand to the cleaners with a 4-0 win with help from a double by Zico. Italy on the other hand were three different kinds of shithouse in the first round. They had kicked off with a 0-0 draw against Poland and then drawn 1-1 with lowly Peru and then snuck in to second following another 1-1 draw with the even lower Cameroon.

Whereas Brazil had scored 10 goals and conceded 2, the Italians had scored 2 and conceded 2.

With another second round/quarter final group system where top spot out of four groups of three teams would advance to the semi finals, Brazil and Italy were drawn together with defending champions Argentina. This was a horror draw for the struggling Italians. Italy did though start to get themselves together against a slowly imploding Argentine outfit. With the wonderful Juventus players Marco Tardelli and Antonio Cabrini scoring in a 2-1 victory. Brazil would also go on to beat Argentina easily (4-1) with a young Diego Maradona being kicked around the pitch and eventually being sent off.

It all came to a virtual quarter final between Italy and Brazil. All Brazil had to do was draw and they were in to the semi finals on goal difference and with the form they were in this didn’t seem like it would be a hard feat even with the Italian’s much famed defence. Amazingly it was the Italians who drew first blood and even more amazing was the fact it was the previously Max Vieri-like Rossi, without a goal in the tournament up to that point, who gave them the lead just five minutes into the match when he headed home a cross from Antonio Cabrini.

Now Brazil needed to score, and it took them just seven minutes to get back on level terms when captain Socrates burst through the Italian defence and slotted the ball past goalkeeper Dino Zoff – no more of this messing around thought Brazil – with Socrates doing one of his trademark late runs in to the box a la Cahill. Again, it was now Italy who needed a goal. They were gifted the initiative midway through the first half. For all their attacking style, Brazil’s defence was suspect and when they gave the ball away to Rossi in their own half he made no mistake in restoring Italy’s lead and doing a double.

Halftime came with the score still at 2-1, and Italy were 45 minutes away from shocking the favourites and reaching the last four.

In the second half, Brazil came out and (unsurprisingly) attacked, seeking the goal that they hoped would take them through. Italy defended strongly, but midway through the second period Brazil’s persistence paid off. Space opened up on the edge of the penalty area for the golden haired Paulo Roberto Falcão and he hit an unstoppable shot past Zoff to level the scores again at 2-2 in the baking sun.

Brazil had just over 20 minutes to hold on for the draw they needed, but could not survive for longer than six. With 74 minutes played, an Italian corner was half cleared and Marco Tardelli’s shot fell to Rossi on the edge of the six yard box. Rossi couldn’t miss, and completed his hat-trick to put Italy ahead for the third time with some great goal poaching. A hat-trick for the striker the whole of Italy had been calling for to be dropped.

Brazil were now desperate for a goal. They threw everything at the Italians, but found their opponent’s defence to be far stronger than their own and the feared strikeforce of Zico and co now looked flat, predictable, desperate and out of luck. They also lacked a plan B with the Italians defence knowing their moves and shutting them down, the hard nosed Claudio Gentile was a massive standout.

Italy held out and Brazil’s finest team since their triumph in 1970 were kicked to the kerb in quite unbelievable circumstances by a team that looked like they were all over the place and there to make up the numbers. John Motson was calling the game for the BBC and still sees this as the greatest game of all time and recalled yelling ‘BUT THIS IS THE NEWS!’ on the telecast moments after full time when a producer whispered in to his earpiece to cross to the news. It had seemed that the defence was the Achilles heel for Brazil and it had cost them. Italy would go on to bigger and better things in this tournament after their shock win but that’s a memorable moment for another time. One of the great upsets in the latter part of the tournament.

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

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