Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hexa

Why do I support Brazil?

I think I have to go back nearly 30 years to the first football World Cup match I ever saw - in 1982. It was not a live match, for sure. It was a replay of a quarter-final match between Brazil and Italy. Before that, I had only heard of Pele and a few other players who were from the 1960s Brazil side - nothing to fall in love with the team. But this time, Brazil had a line of forwards that had flattened lesser teams in the earlier rounds.
The match was an eye-opener and I remember it better than the Spain-Switzerland match I watched last evening.
As I remember it, the match was played almost entirely in the Italian half with the trio of Zico, Socrates and Falcao literally besieging them. This could be a slightly exaggerated view because Italy scored twice and both times, Brazil equalised. And of course, a third goal was also scored (a hat-trick by Paolo Rossi).
What happened after that was my 20 minutes of epiphany.
The third Italian goal must have happened around 70 minutes or so. And after that, Italy just downed the shutters with 10 men in the defense and thwarted every Brazilian surge for twenty minutes, that alternately felt like an eternity and a flash.
As an eight-year old, I thought this was very unfair that a team would not want to score goals but only win. (Fallacy? You, bet!)
And I became a Brazil fan.

In 1986, they pretty much repeated their style by steam-rolling their Group and Second Round opponents and setting up a quarter-final clash with France. Again, they attacked and attacked till they threw it all away with a missed penalty from Zico and France won on penalties.
By this time, I started hating the European teams for having only defenders and goalkeepers.

After these two Cups, 1990 was a bit of a disaster when the coach (I forget the name now) tried to 'get the Cup' and not win. (The not-so-subtle difference is elaborated upon, here.)
1994 was a return of the prodigal as the forward line of Bebeto-Romario took them to their fourth Cup, of which I remember a stunning match against Netherlands where Brazil went 2-0 up, took it easy, took two goals in and then scored a third to win. The match was made famous by the dance of the three Brazilian forwards after the second goal, mimicking a baby-cradling to celebrate Bebeto's son, who was born the previous day.
1998 was the emergence of Ronaldo - who went on to become the highest scorer of the World Cups - and a heartbreaking loss to France in the finals.
For me, 2002 - though not a great performance by Brazilian standards - stood out because of one goal. Just one effing goal that stood for the victory of style and exuberance over safety and strategy.
2006 was bad - both from the style and result point of view - but I found another Brazilian.
Its strange but I think despite these five World Cups, the biggest reason for my Brazilian allegiance would still be that match against Italy where a 'defence machine' shut out great art.

Every World Cup, I shudder when I read about the Brazilian coach trying to 'adopt a defensive style of play', 'temper flair with solidity' and 'curbing natural instincts to become more effective'. These things are best suited for Humphrey Appleby and England. If I wanted to see solidity, I would go to see Germany. Defense is for the Italians.
But I am at the Brazil match to see the sorcerers in green-and-gold creates waves of attack.
That's why I wear full-sleeved-shirts to office (and a Germany match) and a Brazilian jersey to watch the Selecao.

So, why do I support Brazil?
Because they have always been everything that I ever wanted to be as a child.
As they try for their Sixth Cup - the Hexa - I can only hope that they never grow up.
After all, my son also has to feel proud when he wears the jersey that says 'Ronaldinho 10'.

5 comments:

PV said...

Brazil trying to be defensive is like Ivanisevic hitting stodgily from the baseline - completely against what comes naturally

But the Brazilian defense was what dominated thier match against PRK - and sorry to say that the Spaniards played more nimbly and their ball handling was a delight - though they lost to the Swiss

The true colours of the Brazilian coach's methods will be known only in the knock out rounds

I've been a faithful believer in the Samba moves for 24 years - and have been let down more often than not - Lekin Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin

Lalit said...

Dipta back in full form.
Keep writing everyday atleast during the cup.

Anonymous said...

Incidentally it was in 90 (and not in 86) this one moment of brilliance made me an Argentine supporter.

For almost 89 minutes Brazil dominated the match. And somewhere in between the ball went to him near the centre field. He dribbled passed three and passed the ball to Cannigia piercing 2 more defenders ... resulting in the lone goal of the match .. Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Is1CxzEAxoI

Ritambhar said...

Have been a silent reader of your blog and appreciate your writing style. Though I love the European style and Italy in particular, I have nothing against South America/Brazil :-) I do have a point to make though. Admittedly, at an young impressionable age, flair would titillated your mind more over dour strategy. But surely, after having been through the grind in life, don't you think strategies/frameworks/roadmaps should have their due place under the sun along with operational tactics? In other words, in my opinion, dour defense is as much an art as pure-play aggression and contributes to the overall package of the 'beautiful game'. Teams, including Brazil, are realizing this and trying to arrive at a middle ground. Italy has had some great forwards/playmakers over the years: Rossi, Schilachhi, Viali, Baggio, Vieri, Totti, Del Piero as Brazil had defenders (Dunga himself).
My first WC was Italia'90 as a 9 year old
-- Ritambhar

Diptakirti Chaudhuri said...

@ Ritambhar: All of what you said is logical and applies to life. Except that I don't want to be logical when I watch football. I go for safety in real life but don't want Kaka to do the same on a football pitch.

And for 7 Italian forwards in 30 years, Brazil had Zico, Socrates, Falcao, Junior and Careca only in 1982.
And Maicon is a Brazilian defender!