Top 100 World Cup Moments (From the Aussie P.O.V.): 59-Brilliant Brazil Blow It Again (1986)

After being done in the Italian Job at Spain ’82 Brazil got themselves up off the floor and prepared for revenge at the 1986 World Cup. With a turnover some of the lesser lights in the squad Tele Santana was still at the helm and had a bevvy of stars at his disposal with Zico, Muller, Falcao and the smoking Doctor himself Socrates all back. Youngsters were starting to come through too with Branco in the squad for his first tournament.

It all looked good for Brazil leading up to Mexico but an injury sustained by Zico through their plans in to dissaray. Zico would be around 44.5% fit for the tournament and Brazil’s most dangerous player would not start a game. This had an effect on the side with a sluggish start to the tournament. First off they had to rely on Socrates to give them a goal in a 1-0 win over Spain before snuck past Algeria by the same scoreline and then finally found some form and smashed Northern Ireland 3-0. In the second round Brazil destroyed Poland 4-0 and started to look like a side that could go all the way even without Zico, Santana’s jogo bonito style was starting to pay off.

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France came in to the tournament as heavy favourites. They were the European Champions and had been denied a spot in the 1982 final thanks to come quite horrific tactics from a West German keeper. Come 1986 the side had become even stronger with Les Blues led by Juventus lynchpin Michel Plantini, defender Patrick Battiston and Jean Tigana. The French looked second best in their group in the first round. First they got past Canada 1-0 before drawing with the impressive Soviets and then beating Hungary 3-0, not bad but the Soviets had done it better to they finished second in the group. In the second round they lined up the defending champions Italy and did away with the easily, 2-0 the score which meant they would face fellow favourites Brazil in the quarter finals.

With Zico still on the bench the match kicked off like every other game in Mexico, in heat that could only be described as bullshit in the middle of the day (45c to be exact). In the early stages of the match the French midfield left the Brazilians chasing shadows with some beautiful one-touch passing and movement. This wasn’t lost on Brazil, as they waited patiently in those opening 15 minutes of delicate attractive football by the French, ready to pounce with a beautifully-measured counter-assault. A dazzling wing raid by the long-limbed Josimar, followed by a cute pass to Junior, who spotted Careca running in from the left and the ball was thundered into the roof of the net. Genius.

With France losing the plot in the searing heat, Brazil started to crank it up even more. A misplaced pass by an unusually flustered Platini almost gifted Brazil a second goal. Careca, again the danger man, rounded the French keeper and cut it back for Muller racing in. Joel Bats in goal was beaten for a second time, but saved by the post. Not to be outdone, the French mounted a stirring comeback just before half-time and, when a cross was whipped in to the Brazilian box, Yannick Stopyra threw himself at the delivery with Junior, but the ball broke to a gleeful Platini and he stroked home. It was an incredible first-half show of sublime skill orchestrated by arguably the two best teams in the world. The real shame was that it wasn’t the final.

The fury continued in the second half in the searing heat. Brazil poured forward one minute, hitting the post, and then France replied with Tigana going close at the other end. It was non-stop. Zico then missed a penalty and, in a moment between the two No.10s, Platini patted the Brazilian legend on the back after Bats had guessed correctly. Alas no one could break through and a classic confrontation had to be settled by the dreaded penalty shoot-out. Of all the people to miss for France it was Platini who skied it over the bar to put Brazil in the driving seat. Would France go out for the second World Cup in a row on penalties? No. Cesar then missed his opportunity and, eventually, an unlikely hero in Luis Fernandez stepped up to send France into the semi-finals after a truly stunning match.

As usual, the contrasting images of despair and triumph were caught beautifully by the cameras, Platini and Fernandez on their knees hugging, the lonesome figure of Zico removing his sweat-stained shirt, walking down the tunnel, head bowed. A photo that perhaps sybolised the start of what would be a long time where Brazil would be at the beck and call of the French at the World Cup.

Brazil went home again earlier than expected with some of their greatest players not even getting to a final let alone winning the thing. France would go down to West Germany in the semi final 2-0 and were obviously still knackered from this match, a match that is definitely a memorable moment.

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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