England v Brazil
Thursday, 24 September, 2009
A look back at previous encounters with the Brazilians.
Over the years the Brazilians have proved to be the toughest opposition of all for The Three Lions. England have beaten them just three times in 22 attempts.
England v Brazil is the classic World Cup pairing and we have faced them four times in the competition. The first clash came in Sweden in 1958 when we drew our second group match 0-0 for the first goalless match in World Cup Finals history. Billy Wright was England’s captain and Bobby Robson played at inside-right. We went out of the competition in a group play-off; Brazil went on to win the trophy for the first time, inspired by the precocious Pele. (It is commonly thought that his nickname derives from pelada, the Portuguese word for ‘kickabout’.)
Four years later in Chile we met the Brazilians again, this time in a quarter-final in a misty Vina del Mar. Early in the match an excitable dog ran around amongst the players and was grabbed by Jimmy Greaves. ‘Little Bird’ Garrincha headed Brazil in front but Gerry Hitchens, who had joined Inter Milan from Aston Villa, equalised before half-time. A Vava header and a 25-yard swerver from Garrincha won the match 3-1 for Brazil and they retained the trophy a week later.
Our third World Cup meeting with the five-time winners of the competition took place in unbearably hot Guadalajara during the Mexico Finals of 1970. At the start of the tournament many people were betting on an England v Brazil Final, with Sir Alf Ramsey’s squad generally thought to be even stronger than the one in 1966. The two teams squared up in the second match of the group stage and it is still regarded as one of the greatest World Cup matches ever played.
Brazil had brilliant players in Pele, Jairzinho, Rivelino, Tostao and Carlos Alberto. We still had our world-class performers from ’66: Gordon Banks, Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton. And we had Geoff Hurst, our hat-trick hero in the Final. Pele shouted ‘Gol!’ when he headed Jairzinho’s cross towards the unguarded corner of England’s goal on 11 minutes. The great ‘Banksie’ made a save that almost defied the laws of physics, flipping the ball over the bar with his right hand at full stretch. But Brazil squeezed a 1-0 victory through Jairzinho’s goal on the hour. They went on to lift the trophy once more.
And again in 2002, after England’s World Cup adventure had ended at the quarter-final stage on a hot afternoon in Shizuoka. England’s early strategy of getting in behind the Brazilian full-backs worked brilliantly, Michael Owen giving us a priceless lead on 23 minutes, but goals from Rivaldo and Ronaldinho either side of half-time put Brazil in the semis. David Seaman, probably still affected by a first-half back injury, was beaten freakishly by a Ronaldinho free-kick from the right wing that had at first looked to be poorly aimed.
Our three victories over Brazil have all occurred in friendlies. We won 4-2 at Wembley in 1956 in the first ever match between the teams. Tommy Taylor and Colin Grainger each scored twice for England before a full house of 100,000. We had lost disappointingly to the USSR at Wembley early in June 1984 and just eight days later had the daunting task of taking on Brazil in the Maracana in the opening fixture of a South American tour. The Brazilians, who hadn’t lost at their world-famous stadium for 27 years, were said to be ‘on a different planet’ to Bobby Robson’s side. But a sensational goal from John Barnes, dribbling past the whole home defence, and a majestic Mark Hateley header won the match 2-0 for England.
We won again in 1990, 1-0 in a Wembley friendly in front of 80,000. It was a great confidence booster for England, beating mighty Brazil with only 70 days to go before the World Cup Finals in Italy. The visitors showed from the start that they possessed all their traditional skills but, on the night, England’s central defensive partnership of Des Walker and Terry Butcher was outstanding. They kept Bebeto, Careca and the rest at bay and Gary Lineker stooped to head the ball past Taffarel on 37 minutes to grab the winner and equal the 30-goal total of Lofthouse and Finney.
Our complete record against Brazil is played 22, won 3, drawn 9 and lost 10.
The last match, a 2007 friendly and the first full international at the new Wembley, finished 1-1. John Terry headed home a David Beckham free-kick on 68 minutes and Diego equalised with another header in the third minute of stoppage time.