Brazil is the best thing ever to happen in football. They deservedly won the FIFA World Cup five times, most for any team. The Selecao have also finished runners-up twice in 1950 – at home, and famously gave birth to the ghost of Maracana, and in 1998. They were the third best team in the 1938 and 1978 editions. And have finished fourth in 1974.
For the record, Brazil is the only country to take part in all the 19 World Cups so far, besides registering most wins and scoring most goals in the history of the competition.
Here is how they won those five titles:
1958 – Pele arrived
Brazil finally laid rest to their cup woes winning the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. Their campaign started with the 3-0 mauling of Austria, thanks to a Jose Altafini brace and a Nilton Santos strike. It was followed by a goalless draw against England. Then a magical Vava scored twice to beat Russia and top the group.
In the quarter-finals, 17-year-old Pele scored the lone goal to beat Wales in the second half, which was followed by a high-scoring semi-final victory over Just Fontaine`s France. Thanks to a second-half hat-trick from Pele and a goal each from Vava and Didi finally settled the issue for the South Americans.
In the final, Pele and his senior pro Vava continued their form scoring a brace each. Another goal from Mario Zagallo made it 5-2 in favour of Brazil. And thus started Brazil`s domination.
1962 – Garrincha, Vava
Entering the tournament as the champions of the world, a start-studded Brazilian side survived the threat posed by an unheralded Czechoslovakian side in Chile. Pele and Zagallo scored a goal each to beat Mexico in their first match, then a goalless draw with Czechoslovakia sort of dampened their spirit.
But three commanding wins in the next three next games, which include 3-1 quarter-final win over England and 4-2 drubbing of hosts Chile in the semis, set-up beautifully for the final – a replay with Czechoslovakia. With Pele injured out after the initial rounds, the experienced Garrincha forged an enviable attacking force with Vava to help Brazil`s cause.
In the final, Brazil found themselves behind, as early as the 15th minute. But, like the previous final, they hit back strong, scoring three goals to make two successive titles. Both Garrincha and Vava ended up as tournament`s top scorers, with four goals apiece.
1970 – Greatest team, ever! All in colour
After the 1966 set-back in England, Brazil stormed the world football with a force never before seen in the games history. Regarded as the greatest ever team to assemble, the Brazilian squad in the Mexico World Cup included the likes of Pele, Rivelino and Jairzinho.
They won all their group matches, 4-1 over Czechoslovakia, 1-0 over England, 4-2 over Romania. In the quarter-finals, they trounced Peru 4-2 as Tostao scored a double after Rivelino opened the scoring in the 15th minute. Jairzinho scored the last goal to make it beyond Chile`s chase. Unlike the quarter-final match, Brazil drubbed Uruguay 3-1 thanks to goals form Clodoaldo, Jairzinho and Rivelino, despite conceding an early goal to their fierce rivals.
The final at the Azteca Stadium pitted two-time winners, with a strong Italian outfit ready to outlive the Brazilian attack. As expected the match started with Brazil taking an early lead through Pele, then the Italians equalised agaisnt the run of the play. But by the hour mark, European giants have lost their plot and energy to match the Brazilians. The final score-line of 4-1 look unjustified considering the European giants have known for their defending qualities. But in actual, the final match witnessed a Pele-led Brazilian side demolishing the best defense in the world with sheer power and brilliance.
With the third trophy, Brazil had also won the Jules Rimet trophy outright and earned to right to keep it permanently. What happened with the trophy is a different matter, but for the first time, the world witnessed the beauty of football and their stars in colour.
1994 – Brazil played soccer in USA
A new breed of Brazilian footballers arrived after an extended lull in 1994. Once again, Brazilian names became familiar names all around the world. Romario, Bebeto, Dunga, Cafu, and Rai were such few names. All short and easy to pronounce.
Their on-field onslaught, however, on contrary were eponymous with precision brutality. The team was not as great as the previous ones, but Carlos Parreira`s squad was groomed to finish the job. And they did.
Brazil won two of their three group matches, 2-0 over Russia, 3-0 over Cameroon, and drew with Sweden, with Romario scoring a goal in each of the games. In the pre-quarters, his striking partner Bebeto scored the lone goal against the host United States. Then, in the quarters, Romario- Bebeto combined to rocked Netherlands, winning 3-2.
The Sweden replay in the semi-finals saw Romario scoring the 80th minute winner, to help his national team play the finals once again, against Italy. After both sides failed to score even after the extra time, the title was decided on penalties. Brazil converted three from four attempts as Italy managed only tow from five attempts with Roberto Baggio`s skier sending the Brazilian fans into a rapturous celebration. Thus, Brazil became the first team to win four world cups.
Romario`s five goals were overshadowed by Hungarian Hristo Stoichkov and Russian Oleg Salenko, who both scored six goals each.
2002 – Samba, Asia came calling!
The FIFA World Cup finally got a foreign shore besides the Americas and Europe. For the first time, football`s show-piece event arrived in Asia. It was a watershed moment for the poor cousins of footballing power-houses as it allowed the game to prosper like never before, tapping into the huge Asian market.
For Brazil, it was a chance to redeem themselves after the humiliation in France. And a perfect chance to give a parting gift to some of their legends like Cafu, Dida and Edilson. The campaign started with a trickey 2-1 win over Turkey, then a couple of easy outings against debutantes China and Costa Rica. With three wins and scoring lots of goals, Brazil top the group. In the round of 16, Rivaldo and Ronaldo continued their scoring form to score a goal each to set-up a comfortable win. Then Ronaldinho joined the fun in the quarters, scoring an unbelievably strange goal against David Seaman, to set up a 2-1 win over England.
In the semis, they win the replay against a surprisingly efficient Turkish side, thanks to a Ronaldo goal in Saitama. But in contrast to predictions, Brazil humbled Germany 2-0 in the final to win their fifth title, with Ronaldo scoring both the goals. Playing in his final world cup, Ronaldo returned with eight goals, for a combined cup tally of 15 goals, one better than previous record of 14 by Gerd Muller.