Port Elizabeth: Brazil’s 1970 World Cup-winners have a lot to answer for at least as far as the country’s subsequent national team coaches are concerned.
The Pele-inspired side played some of the best football the finals have seen on their way to Brazil’s third world title, culminating in an irresistible 4-1 win over Italy in the final.
But the fallout has hit coach Mario Zagallo successors. Since then, Brazil have been expected not just to win the World Cup but to do it in style, an often exasperating situation.
Even now, when improved physical preparation and tactics make it almost impossible to repeat the 1970 way of playing, the debate rages on.
Carlos Alberto Parreira, coach of the 1994 team which won the next of Brazil’s five titles, was jeered by Brazilian fans in the crowd before the final against Italy because his team had been found guilty of playing without style.
Dunga, the latest incumbent, views the whole discussion as a European plot to stop Brazil claiming a sixth world title.
“If we’re going to start up that debate again over playing pretty football, we’ll probably go another 24 years without winning (the World Cup) which is what the others want,” he said at one point.
“The Europeans will be having a party and we will end up suffering.”
Dunga is feeling the effects of Brazilian football’s identity crisis first-hand.
In just under four years in charge, his team have won the Copa America and Confederations Cup as well as finishing top of the South American World Cup qualifying tournament. They have won 41 out of 58 matches and lost only five.
None of that, however, has been good enough to save him from some savage criticism about his team’s pragmatic but ruthlessly efficient style.
Dunga has argued it is impossible to play what the Brazilian media refer to as “futebol-arte” (artful football) or “Jogo Bonito” (the Beautiful Game) when other teams simply shut up shop and pack their defence.
“When you play opponents who close ranks, you have to speed up the game, you misplace passes, you have to be persistent, it’s not easy to play against that sort of team,” he said after his side laboured to a 2-1 win over North Korea in their opener.
Asked about the huge expectations, he complained: “We always have to win but, even when we win, they (the fans) are not happy because we didn’t put on a show. If we put on a show, they are not happy because we didn’t score six or seven goals.
“If we score six or seven goals, then they say that the opposition was no good.”
Dunga even believes the 1970 team has been flattered by television, saying: “When they show highlights from 1970, all you see are the good parts.
“If we take the current Brazilian team and just show the best bits, fans will think it’s a spectacular team. But today, they show as many negative moments as good ones.”
In any case, the Brazilian public’s love of seeing their team play with style only goes so deep. When they won the 1994 and 2002 World Cups, there were huge parties even though neither team reached the heights of 1970.
When a stylish team failed to win in 1982, coach Tele Santana and his players were vilified.