Telê Santana is the man who revived and then killed Brazilian football. After the glorious summer of 1970, Brazil went through a dull phase in the 70s. Brazil were left behind by the Total Football of Johan Cruijff & Franz Beckenbauer. In 1974 the Seleção were more intent in kicking the lumps out of Cruijff & Neeskens. Things didn’t get any better in 1978 although they weren’t as bad in Argentina as they were in West Germany. Brazil would exit after the controversial 6-0 win by the hosts over Peru. This match and the disgrace of Gijón in 1982 were directly responsible in FIFA’s decision to hold the final group stage matches simultaneously so that no team knows what to do in advance.
Blessed with 4 supremely talented hybrid midfielders/forwards (Zico, Socrates, Éder, Falcão) Telê created a fantastic attacking side. It was not a side without flaws though. The amazing midfield chemistry masked a soft underbelly that was their defence and a sub par striker in Serginho. A young striker named Careca from Guarani would have surely made the squad but for his injury. They won all 4 matches before facing Italy where a draw would have sent them through to the semi-finals. Then, Paolo Rossi happened. Brazil never shut up shop after Falcão’s brilliant equalizer and a disappointed Telê quit.
Telê Santana returned to manage Brazil again in time for the 1986 World Cup. He seemed to learn his lesson well as Brazil did not concede (scoring 9 goals) on their way to the quarter-finals where they would face the reigning European champions France led by the regal Michel Platini. France lost the first ever penalty shoot-out in the a World cup finals tournament after a titanic 3-3 draw with West Germany in Spain. France’s midfield of Tigana, Giresse, Luis Fernandez & Platini was as good if not better than Brazil’s quartet. The 1-1 draw was one of the greatest matches in football’s greatest tournament. The penalty shoot-out ended in a second heartbreak in four years for Brazil. The match also turned Brazil into a cynical dull and dour winning machine instead of the glorious jogo bonito they were renowned for in the 50s & 60s.
As is wont with most of my posts this ends the prologue/non-sequitur to the title of the post. The goal in the quarter-final was by the wonderful Careca. Let us first take a look:
It begins with Bats (French goalie) kicking the ball out. Júlio César wins the header and the right back Josimar (who scored two wonderful goals in the same tourney) collects the ball playing it to part-time surgeon/footballer/leftist activist and full time smoker/drinker Sócrates. After languidly dilly-dallying on the ball Sócrates gives it to Alemão. He gives it to Josimar, who as is wont with Brazilian fullbacks, continues his run. The magic is about to begin.
Müller receives the ball and it seems like there is nothing he can do. He’s got his back to the goal. A defender on his back and in his front. There is an outlet available in Júnior but he’s also marked by a defender. There is also a sweeper and another defender marking Careca. Any goalkeeper would be secure in thinking that his fortress is well protected in this 3 on 5 scenario.
Müller takes a touch and gives Júnior the ball and using the defender as pivot spins into space. After this give and go, Müller gets the ball back from Júnior completing the transaction of the perfunctory 1-2. The pass by Júnior is so enticing from the sweeper’s viewpoint that he believes he can cut it off by a classic sliding tackle. The São Paulo striker anticipates this and taps the ball by the outside of his left foot.
Júnior has continued his run and takes a touch to draw the defender away from Careca, leaving the Ca that would complete the MaGiCa of Napoli in acres of space in front of goal.
Careca just rifles the ball into the top right corner to finish the glorious move with a flourish.
The whole sequence from Josimar’s first pass to Müller to Careca’s finish took just 7 seconds. A matrix of simple touches that had attracted the 5 French defenders like flies to sugar leaving Careca with enough time to finish brunch before picking the spot to put the ball in. I’ll leave you with Rob Smyth’s description in the Guardian’s wonderful series: The Joy of Six.
If you pause the video as Josimar feeds the ball into Muller, it seems that there is nothing on whatsoever. Luis Muller and Junior are covered; there is a spare man and another marking Careca. It was like a chess puzzle that had never previously been done in under 12 moves, but Brazil solved it with seven delicious, economical touches, culminating in a decisive sweep of Careca’s right foot past Joel Bats. By then he was in acres of space, but only because of how good his team-mates had been when there was no space at all.