De Futebol Brasil stinks! A one all Draw with Switzerland

For the first time since 1978 Brasil has not won their opening match in the World Cup. The guys snatched a draw from the jaws of victory. Lazy horrible defense cost Brasil big time.

Phillipe Coutinho tickled the twines in the 20th minute. However, Switzerland came back to score in 50th minute. Steven Zuber parked in front net by his lonesome poked hone the rock to level this puppy at one all.

Brasileiros had their chances to get the match winner but they missed it by that much.

Serbia defeated Costa Rica 1-0.

Serbia is top dog with three points.

Brasil and Switzerland are second and third with one point apiece.

Costa Rica is in the whale dung position with zero points.

The upset of the day Mexico defeated Germany 1-0.

The Guardians David Hytner:” his was not how Brazil had scripted it. The five-times world champions were in control thanks to a trademark Philippe Coutinho screamer and the first step to avenge the trauma from the previous finals looked set to be sure-footed.

Yet one lapse was all it took for Switzerland to crash back into it – Steven Zuber heading the equaliser – and, with a priceless result within their grasp, they were in no mood to relinquish it.

Brazil complained bitterly that Zuber’s goal ought to have been disallowed for a push on Miranda but the referee, César Arturo Ramos, was correct to ignore them.

Switzerland, ranked sixth in the world, were on the back foot for almost all of the evening and they rode their luck during a frenetic finale when Brazil pushed hard for a winner. They had a flurry of chances but none would go in and, in the end, it turned out to be a valiant point for the Swiss.

Brazil have cast themselves as avenging angels, even if the agony of their home 2014 World Cup – when they were humiliated 7-1 by Germany in the semi-final – might never truly leave them and they have not run from their status of favourites. Far from it. Neymar had posted a message on the eve of this tie declaring himself unafraid of dreaming big. “Let’s go Brazil – for the sixth!” he wrote.

But it was not their night. Coutinho sliced when well placed on 69 minutes while Gabriel Jesus felt that he should have had a penalty when Manuel Akanji put his hands on him inside the area. In the closing minutes Neymar and the substitute Roberto Firmino headed too close to Yann Sommer, Miranda dragged wide when gloriously placed and another substitute, Renato Augusto, watched Fabian Schär clear a shot to safety. The ball simply would not go in.

Switzerland wanted to impose themselves and to play their front‑foot possession style but it would become a display of rearguard action. The occasion had felt different for Brazil when Coutinho put them in front and the goal was a peach.

Neymar, looking every inch the A‑lister with his meticulously coiffured blond crop, popped the ball off to Marcelo and his cross was headed out by Zuber but only as far as Coutinho. The midfielder took a touch before shaping a right-footed curler into the far corner. Sommer dived at full stretch but there was nothing he could do.

Tite had started Coutinho on the left of a midfield three, which had Paulinho on the right and Casemiro at the base, but the former Liverpool man had the scope to roam. So did Neymar. Actually, Neymar was allowed to do whatever he desired and that included a few bursts of trademark professional dramatics. Valon Behrami could be seen to laugh after one first-half Neymar tumble and there were other occasions when he went down with ease.

Neymar demands free-kicks from any contact; it is a perk of his status. But those in red played with fire whenever they challenged him. At times, his rapid movement was too much. Stephan Lichtsteiner, Schär and Behrami were each booked for fouls on him.

Brazil might have led sooner. Neymar combined with Coutinho to cross low and when Schär got himself into a tangle, Paulinho sniffed out a close-range shooting chance. He went for the far corner, scuffing it slightly, only for Sommer to make a finger-tip save. The goalkeeper did not get the credit at the time, with Ramos awarding a goal-kick rather than a corner.

Blerim Dzemaili had lifted an early half-chance high from Xherdan Shaqiri’s pass but Switzerland could do nothing further as an attacking force before the interval. They would also breathe a sigh of relief when Thiago Silva glanced over from Neymar’s corner at the end of the half. Moments earlier, Akanji had snuffed out Jesus in a last-man duel.

The game turned sharply at the beginning of the second half and it was a poor way for Brazil to surrender the initiative. From Shaqiri’s corner, Miranda felt Zuber deliver a little shove to his back but it was not enough to throw him off balance. He had merely lost his man, misreading the flight of the ball. Zuber leapt up to head past the exposed Alisson. Brazil pleaded in vain for a VAR review. Game on.

witzerland grew visibly and, all of a sudden, there were one or two jitters in Brazil’s ranks. Neymar, who has only just returned from a serious ankle and metatarsal injury, looked to be feeling the troublesome right foot. His fitness remains a concern, as does his tendency to freeze-frame in possession, as he looks to draw his marker into a rash move. Does his tendency unduly slow Brazil’s tempo?

Tite made midfield changes, swapping Casemiro, who had been booked, for Fernandinho and Paulinho for Renato Augusto. It did not alter Brazil’s shape or their approach.

They continued to probe, primarily through Neymar, but Switzerland, who were always likely to be obdurate, could feel the desperation and their resilience grew. Tite’s final substitution was also like-for-like. Jesus off; Firmino on.

Jesus had been central to the game’s greatest controversy. On 74 minutes Akanji put his arms around him as he ran onto a pass inside the area. Down he went but the appeals were waved away. The fall looked exaggerated but the contact was there. It was certainly risky from Akanji. He got away with it. Switzerland would do likewise with the point.

De Futebol 1986 World Cup

Let’s take another trip in the way back machine. This time the 1986 World Cup in Mexico City.

The Guardians Rob Smyth:” The right-back was unknown, uncapped and unemployed before scoring twIn the summer of 1964, England took part in the Little World Cup in Brazil. It was a simple four-team league involving Portugal, Argentina and the hosts. England finished joint-bottom with Portugal. In their first match they were plugged 5-1 by Brazil in Rio. They commiserated with a night on the town, and were staggering around Copacabana beach the following morning when they were challenged to a game by some local kids.

It was an embarrassing mismatch: the England team, two years away from winning the Big World Cup, got absolutely slaughtered for the third time in 18 hours. Admittedly it was 12 v seven, and the seven had quaffed a few performance-diminishing substances the night before. But the story, told in Jimmy Greaves’s Don’t Shoot the Manager, reflects an eternal truth about Brazilian football: that there are brilliant, natural talents on every beach corner.

The ultimate symbol of that is Josimar, the two-hit wonder of Mexico 86. No World Cup has ever produced a better collection of goals – if you do only one thing with your lunch break today – and Josimar scored two monsters against Northern Ireland and Poland. He might as well have come straight out of the thin Mexican air. Nobody outside Brazil had heard of him; he wasn’t even in the Panini album.

He wasn’t just unknown – he was also uncapped and unemployed when he was called up to the Brazil squad at the last minute after the first-choice right-back Leandro pulled out. Four players missed a curfew but only one, the playboy winger Renato Gaúcho, was thrown out of the squad by the manager Telê Santana. Leandro, whose head was a mess at the time, pulled out in a kind of guilty solidarity.

Josimar had not played a game since mid-March, when his Botafogo contract expired. He was cooking and looking after his pregnant wife when he received a call telling him he was going to Mexico. In the best traditions, he thought it was a joke, politely said thank you and got on with his day. An hour later he received another call telling him where and when to report.

Édson Boaro, the back-up for Leandro who was now first choice, got injured after 10 minutes of the second match against Algeria. Josimar was not on the bench but he did replace Edson in the starting line-up against Northern Ireland six days later. He was strikingly tall for a full-back and formidably built, with a sinewy frame and thighs made of oak.

Brazil were 1-0 up with four minutes to go to half-time, keeping the ball with some lazy passing in Northern Ireland’s half. “Josimar … Júnior … Elzo … Alemao,” said BBC commentator John Motson, capturing the rhythmic groove of Brazil’s possession as Alemão played the ball square to Josimar. “Well, Careca and Casagrande are waiting for a cross.”

They’re still waiting. Josimar pushed the ball in front of him, sprinted on the spot in excitement at what he was about to attempt, and put his whole being into a shot. It was a ridiculous distance from which to shoot – 30 yards out and a long way to the right of centre – but the ball swooshed wickedly and arrowed past Pat Jennings into the far top corner.

The celebration was almost as iconic as the goal. Josimar went off on a mini lap of honour, both arms raised in the air, his face a picture of giddy disbelief. Years later, Jennings was asked by a small boy at a Q&A what it was like to be chipped by Josimar from 35 yards. “Son,” he said. “Your idea of a chip and my idea of a chip are two different things!”

For a full-back, a goal like that is a once-in-a-lifetime moment. So Josimar did it again four days later, rampaging through the Poland defence to batter the ball home from an absurd angle. It was the second goal in a 4-0 win that took Brazil into the quarter-finals, where they lost to France on penalties after a classic 1-1 draw.

Even though he only played three games, Josimar was included in Fifa’s team of the tournament, the only Brazilian apart from the centre-back Júlio César to make the XI. Botafogo re-signed him, and the media adopted him. “UM HERÓI DESEMPREGADO” (THE UNEMPLOYED HERO) was the headline of a feature in Placar. He also won an informal award as the most beautiful player of the tournament. “I’m just like coffee,” he said. “The ‘blackie’ that satisfies everyone.”

The fairytale soon became a cautionary tale. Josimar, like so many Brazilian footballers from poor backgrounds, was allergic to overnight fame. His life was tipped downside up and he surrendered to a hat-trick of vices: booze (especially whisky), cocaine and womanising.

Soon after Mexico, he started to make different kinds of headlines. He ended up in prison after hitting a prostitute who racially abused him when he tried to negotiate a cheaper price for an orgy that had already happened. A few years later, he threw his wallet out of the window when being chased by police; it was later found with three grams of coke in it. His brother, a cocaine addict, was also shot dead in a favela.

Josimar was one of the first bad boys of Brazilian football, a status that rankled. “Maradona and Edmundo were given second chances,” he said in a 1995 interview. “Why not me? Nobody ever proved anything against me. I only liked a bit of whisky.”

Many sportsmen never recover from their lowest point; Josimar never really got over the high of Mexico and his career drifted to nothing. In 1988 he almost went to Dundee United (the mind boggles at the thought of the relationship between Josimar and Jim McLean) and he was offered to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United (the mind boggles, etc) before having a shambolic spell at Sevilla. He did play a significant part in Botafogo’s legendary Campeonato Carioca victory in 1989, and was a bit-part player in Brazil’s victorious Copa América squad a month later. He won the last of his 16 caps in November 1989. Those two goals in Mexico were the only ones he scored for Brazil.

Josimar eventually found his way back on the rails with the help of the great right-back Jorginho. He embraced Christianity and now lives in the north of Brazil. He is still bitter about all the racism, the fake friends and his treatment in the press. His recent interviews suggest the internal tug-of-war between denial and regret is unresolved.

He is more fondly remembered abroad than in Brazil, where he is a curiosity in the national team’s lavish history. The rest of the world only really saw Josimar at Mexico 86 and then in the greatest theatre of all, the imagination. We assumed he was roofing 30-yarders every week. If the World Cup is our dream holiday, once every four years, then Josimar was a helluva of a holiday romance.

Globalisation, the internet and Football Manager have long since stripped football of its mystery. Josimar is a joyful lament for the past. His name – and what a name, by the way – evokes the innocence of ignorance, before the internet bred know-it-alls in more ways than one.

There was a mythical quality to Josimar’s goals. You would see them once in a blue moon – on a grainy home-made VHS that you had lovingly labelled ‘DON’T TAPE OVER’, perhaps, or if Grandstand had a feature on great long-range goals. YouTube has changed our memories of our memories, and probably softened some of the Proustian magic of his goals. But his association is as powerful as ever.

Norway’s best football magazine is called Josimar; there’s even a Scottish graphic designer who named his business after his Brazilian muse. Along with Salvatore Schillaci at Italia 90, Josimar is surely football’s greatest one-tournament wonder.

He is also often included in the list of lost talents. If anything he was the opposite, a good but not great player whose brief career peak was perfectly in sync with the apex of football’s four-year cycle. Brazil has millions of talented unknowns, sure – but few left a mark on the football world like Josimar.

De Futebol World Cup Stunning Moments France beats Brasil !

Let’s take a little trip in the way back machine for some more stunning World Cup moments.

The Guardians Jacob Steinberg:” The French celebrated a historic home victory while the rest of the world wondered what had happened to the previously imperious Ronaldo as he sleepwalked through the final.

As the Brazilian national anthem floated around the Stade de France, the camera kept lingering on one man. His identity was not a surprise. Ronaldo, after all, was the greatest player in the world, O Fenomeno, the star of a Brazil team that was hoping to become the first to retain the World Cup on two separate occasions. Nothing unusual about that, you might think; television prefers to focus on the talent and in 1998, no one was as ferociously talented as Ronaldo, whose supernatural mixture of power, pace and skill had made him the player every child in the playground wanted to be; at the age of 21, the hopes and dreams of a nation rested on his shoulders.

The assumption was that they were broad enough to handle the pressure – but this was not a normal evening, even by the manic standards of a World Cup final. Sixteen years on, the events of that Paris evening remain shrouded in mystery and intrigue, the murky circumstances that led to Ronaldo first being omitted from the Brazil team sheet and then reinstated some of the most bizarre – and, some insist, scandalous – the sport has seen. It is a depressing but still fascinating story of claim and counter-claim, of conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory, of rumours of self-interest and political manoeuvring, of angry denials and scattergun accusations and, above all, a story where pinning down the truth can feel like a troublingly elusive task.

To this day, only a select group of people know what happened in the hours and minutes leading up to the final, what compelled Brazil’s coach, Mário Zagallo, to backtrack and name Ronaldo in his starting lineup. Given that it later transpired Ronaldo had suffered a seizure in his hotel room in the afternoon, was saved by his team-mates and had to be taken to hospital, this was hardly a case of a manager making a decision on tactical grounds. That was too tall a story to sell; the widespread belief was something bigger was at play.

The buildup

What we know is that on 12 July 1998, Brazil were in the World Cup final against the hosts, France, and because they had Ronaldo they were the favourites. At 7.48pm local time, 72 minutes before kick-off, the first team sheet was printed and submitted to Fifa, whose delegate surely did a double take once he had scanned the piece of extremely important paper in his hands. “Yes, everything seems in order here. Taffarel; Cafu, Júnior Baiano, Aldair, Roberto Carlos, Leonardo, Dunga (captain), César Sampaio, Rivaldo, Bebeto, Edmundo. Edmundo? Edmundo?! Wait a minute, where’s Ronaldo? Mr Zagallo, are you sure there’s no mistake?”

There was no mistake. Zagallo was said to have made his decision at about 5pm, telling Edmundo that he was in the team and Ronaldo, Brazil’s top scorer with four goals, was on the bench. He subsequently informed the rest of the team and, in an attempt to motivate them and lift their spirits, he reminded them that he was part of the Brazil side that won the 1962 final without Pelé.

A good try on his part but some of those players had earlier seen one of their team-mates, their talisman and an apparently healthy young man, convulsing on his bed.

The list was the first one given to journalists, just after 8pm, and the unofficial reason given for Ronaldo’s absence was that he was suffering from an ankle injury he had picked up in the semi-final against Holland five days earlier. Cue bedlam. Cue chaos. Cue questions as journalists scrambled around the press box, tripping over each other as they tried to find out what was going on. On the BBC, John Motson was in a magnificent frenzy. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my career,” he whirred. “The scenes in the commentary box have been absolute mayhem and chaos.”

Ronaldo’s omission had come out of the blue. Even though there had been allegations that his weight was higher than usual and there was also a hint of the knee problems that would afflict him later in his career, pain and stiffness caused by tendinitis restricting him throughout the tournament and requiring the use of painkillers to get him through matches, he had still been Brazil’s best player and he was expected both to start and dominate the final, even against a French side that contained some of the most formidable defenders in the world.

It was impossible not to be overcome by a sense of disappointment – no Ronaldo, no party. “He didn’t come to France to compete with the players of his generation but to seek a place amongst the best of the two millennia – this one and the coming,” Jorge Valdano wrote the day before the match. “If Romário, his predecessor, was subtlety, Ronaldo is exuberance. If Romário’s habitat was the penalty area, Ronaldo’s home would need to measure half the size of the pitch. If Romário is the past, Ronaldo’s almost cybernetic play belongs to the future.” To put it into context, imagine the reaction if Argentina reach the final in Brazil this summer and Lionel Messi is not playing. Twitter would crash, Jim White’s head would explode and over on ITV, Roy Keane would be glaring at Adrian Chiles.

Confusion reigned, and Brazil did not emerge for their warm-up, but rumours then started to circulate that a modified team sheet was on the way and Ronaldo was going to start after all. Sure enough, when it arrived at 8.18pm, a furious Edmundo was on the bench and Ronaldo was in the team. He had made quite the recovery in such a short space of time. Eyebrows were raised.

The match

Ronaldo was the last Brazil player out of the tunnel. The camera focused on him and continued to do so during the anthem, its attention diverted away to something less important every so often but always returning to its primary target before long, training its glare on Ronaldo as if it was trying to bore a way into his soul, to reveal to the world what was going on behind that impressively impassive look on his face.

For his part, Ronaldo’s poker face was giving nothing away. Or maybe he was in a daze. There was a hint of a smile, nothing more than that, and Ronaldo stayed still when the anthem finished. “Ronaldo,” ITV’s commentator, Brian Moore, said, “Well he’s come through that dramatic injury crisis.”

With the viewing public and the media still in the dark about what had occurred behind the scenes, there was an assumption that Ronaldo’s presence would swing the final in Brazil’s favour. Yet they had been heavily criticised throughout the tournament, a consequence of Zagallo’s caution, their rickety offence and their reliance on Ronaldo, who was quiet during the group stage but explosive in the knockout rounds, scoring twice and hitting the woodwork twice in the 4-1 win over Chile in the second round, creating a goal for Rivaldo in the 3-2 win over Denmark in the quarter-final and scoring in the semi-final against Holland, who were defeated on penalties.

Pelé felt Brazil were a collection of great individuals rather than a great team, while Johan Cruyff went further. “I said at the start of the tournament that I did not like this Brazilian team and I still say that. It would be really bad for football if Brazil won with such poor play because this team is imitated throughout the world.”

Writing on the morning of the match, Ruud Gullit said he was disappointed with Brazil and felt Holland had been the strongest side in the tournament until their elimination on penalties. But Brazil were mentally stronger than the Dutch and Zagallo was unrepentant about a gameplan that veered towards bus parking. “We couldn’t risk leaving any open spaces,” he said. “Otherwise we would have lost – easily.”

But as stoutly as Brazil defended against Holland, the sorry facade came crumbling down against France. Inside a minute, a long ball from Lilian Thuram caught out Baiano and Stéphane Guivarc’h, he of apostrophe and Newcastle fame, ran through to hook a glorious chance over the bar. Minutes later, Zinedine Zidane nutmegged Aldair, releasing Guivarc’h, who fluffed his lines again. A Zidane free-kick from the left found Youri Djorkaeff unmarked and he headed high and wide. Brazil were all over the place and Zagallo was soon off his seat, arms outstretched, demanding more from his players. Yet they could not raise their tempo, the lack of a warm-up unsettling them, and the sloppiness of their passing was only matched by the paucity of their imagination and the sluggishness of their movement.

And then there was the sleepwalking figure of Ronaldo, who barely touched the ball in the first half, was tracked and hassled everywhere by the persistent Frank Leboeuf, playing instead of the suspended Laurent Blanc, even when he dropped deep. On the few occasions that Ronaldo saw the ball, he was on the halfway line, had his back to goal and was slow to react, constantly allowing Leboeuf to step in front of him to win back possession for France.

Barely 20 minutes had been played and it was already clear that all was not well for Ronaldo, although the ITV commentators were not yet aware of the full extent of the situation; like the rest of us, they did not know about the fit. “If it was anyone else, he wouldn’t play but he is so vital and inspiring,” Kevin Keegan observed. “At the moment, it’s a gamble that hasn’t quite come off. My feeling on ankles is they don’t get better, they get worse the more you play. Look, again, on his heels there.” Moore agreed with his co-commentator. “The one thing he has is electric pace and you need strong ankles for that,” he said. Ronaldo lost another battle with Leboeuf and Keegan said: “He doesn’t look in any way up for it.”

There were only fleeting glimpses of Ronaldo’s coruscating speed. Midway through the first half he burst past Thuram on the left and although he sliced his cross, France’s goalkeeper, Fabien Barthez, almost flapped it over the line. Then, shortly after Zidane had headed France into the lead from Emmanuel Petit’s 27th-minute corner, Dunga knocked a straight ball over the France defence for Ronaldo to chase but out came Barthez, taking out ball and striker in one go. Ronaldo lying prone on the ground was the last thing Brazil wanted to see but he got up after a while.

France, meanwhile, were enjoying themselves and after Petit, Djorkaeff and Guivarc’h wasted further opportunities, Zidane headed in his second just before half-time. Again Brazil had been found wanting at a corner, this time from Djorkaeff’s delivery. Zidane, who had been in disgrace after his foolish red card against Saudi Arabia in the group stage, had finally arrived on the big stage after disappointing in successive Champions League final defeats for Juventus against Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid. “I’m not very good with my head,” he Trevor Brooking-ed.

That much was evident when he lost his cool against the Saudis and France laboured without him against Paraguay in the second round, but he returned against Italy in the quarter-finals and then played in the Thuram-inspired victory over Croatia in the semi-finals. “Zidane, Zidane, Zidane … France was in the grip of ‘zizoumania’,” Marcel Desailly wrote in his autobiography. “I never imagined it could grow to such proportions. Sometimes I asked myself if one human could withstand such passion. And did he, in any case, quite resist it? At the start of the tournament we found him a little febrile, more stretched, more demanding than usual, at least on the pitch. That febrility culminated in his expulsion against Saudi Arabia. And after a moment of depression, he reacted like a champion and started to prepare himself for the quarter-final.”

Desailly’s comments offer an insight into the suffocating pressure placed on the most gifted players during major tournaments and even after that torrid first half, Zagallo did not remove Ronaldo, whose one sight of goal resulted in him firing straight at Barthez after 55 minutes. Roberto Carlos, his closest friend in the squad, wondered whether it was too much for him and said that Ronaldo had been “in tears in the night and in the afternoon he went yellower than our shirts”.

Although Desailly was sent off for a second booking and, belatedly, Brazil stirred into life as the match wore on – with Ronaldo lasting the 90 minutes and Edmundo introduced with 15 minutes to go – they were caught on the break towards the end, Patrick Vieira setting up Petit for France’s third. Brazil had been comprehensively beaten. France were the world champions.

The fallout

While France celebrated their first World Cup, an inquest into Brazil’s non-performance was beginning to rumble. The spotlight was thrust upon Zagallo and he admitted the fears over Ronaldo affected his team psychologically. “For the whole of the first half I was wondering whether to take him off,” he said. But Zagallo became angry when probed further about Ronaldo’s condition and eventually stormed out of the room, shouting “I have my dignity.” All was not well.

So why didn’t Zagallo remove Ronaldo? First, he said, he did not fancy dealing with the outcry if he had substituted him. Yet conspiracy theories also abounded, the most prominent of which was that Nike had pressurised Brazil into playing Ronaldo. Two and two were added together and it was alleged that Nike used its £105m sponsorship deal with the CBF, the Brazilian football federation, to push for the inclusion of the most marketable player. “Here was a 21-year-old player, the best player in the world, surrounded by contracts and pressure,” Roberto Carlos said. “It was as if this was always going to happen to him. Something had to give. And when it did, it happened to be the day of the World Cup final.”

For many in Brazil, pointing the finger of blame at a major corporation made sense and gave a voice to fears that money was ruining the people’s game. As the protests in Brazil against Fifa and this year’s World Cup have demonstrated, that feeling has not gone away. However, Nike swiftly and strongly denied allegations that it had exerted any influence over Ronaldo and was never proven to have done anything untoward.

Slowly but surely, though, details began to seep out and it became clear that the supposed ankle injury was a cover story. “It was as if a malaise had come over him,” Roberto Carlos said. “Not even he knew what was going on.”

The team doctor, Lídio Toledo, spoke to the media and said: “He was not feeling well this afternoon and now he’s better. What happened to him? Quite simply, he felt faint and after that he went to rest. I stress that he is feeling better now.”

Perhaps he was but soon the Brazilian newspaper O Globo was reporting that the decision had been taken out of the hands of Zagallo and Toledo by Ricardo Teixeira, the head of the CBF and the son-in-law of João Havelange, the outgoing president of Fifa.

The paper claimed Teixeira was told that Ronaldo had to play and also that the player had said he was ready. The only statement Ronaldo made was to tell Globo television a few weeks later that he was not a coward. He has since maintained that he was fit. At a low-key reception to welcome home the squad, he recalled the moment his world fell apart. “I don’t remember properly but I went to sleep and then, like the doctor said, it seems I had a seizure for 30 or 40 seconds,” Ronaldo said. “I woke up and then my whole body was in pain. But with time the pain got less and I relaxed a bit.”

Brazilians were unsatisfied. Zagallo lost his job. Coaches followed him out the door, doctors too, and an inquest was launched in Brazil’s national congress. There it emerged that the squad had lunch before the final, before returning to their rooms at the Château de Grande Romaine hotel at about 2pm, whereupon Ronaldo, who was with Roberto Carlos, began to have a fit, his body convulsing and his mouth frothing. When Roberto Carlos began screaming for help, Edmundo, who was in the next room, came in to find the shocking scene.

“César Sampaio, the defender, was the first person to administer first aid,” Alex Bellos wrote in the Guardian in 2002. “He got to Ronaldo before the doctors did and, with Edmundo holding him down, put his hand in Ronaldo’s mouth to unravel his tongue and prevent him swallowing it.” Ronaldo then fell asleep. People looked in on him every minutes but he did not wake up until tea, when Leonardo insisted that he should be told about what happened.

Toledo and one of his colleagues, Dr Joaquim da Mata, examined Ronaldo and he was taken to the Lilas clinic in Paris at 5pm. One suggestion, made at a later date, was that Ronaldo had been given a valium to calm him down but the tests showed nothing and he was given the all-clear at 6.30pm, arriving at the stadium at 8.10pm and telling Zagallo that he wanted to play. So he played, apparently neither the manager nor the team doctors wishing to stand in his way. “Imagine if I stopped him playing and Brazil lost,” Toledo told the commission. “At that moment I’d have to go and live on the North Pole.”

Zagallo also angrily denied he had been ordered to pick Ronaldo. “If there had been interference, I would have resigned,” he said. “I have never accepted interference as coach of any club or national team.”

For all Zagallo’s protests, it was highly debatable whether Ronaldo was the best person to decide whether he was ready to play the biggest game of his life seven hours after having a convulsion. Professor Alex Caetano de Barros, employed by Internazionale, Ronaldo’s club, to examine the striker, said letting him play was “an absolute error, since the 24 hours after a convulsion are those when a recurrence is most likely”.

Could the painkillers Ronaldo was taking have been behind his collapse? A month after the final, Da Mata spoke out. “Never, in all these years, have I seen before a player with a convulsion,” he said. “I see young Ronaldo that day and I’m thinking tragedy.” He said that he had prescribed a common painkiller after Ronaldo aggravated a knee injury early in the tournament and said it was taken orally rather than being administered via an injection, which would have been too dangerous. “The medicine we use is not so strong, to cause convulsion,” Da Mata concluded.

Globo would also hear from an anonymous team official that Ronaldo was given an injection of a cortisone with anaesthetic on the morning of the final. It was later claimed in the Brazilian press that the drug had entered a vein accidentally.

Whatever the truth, and there are many shades of grey here, Jogo Bonito has rarely looked so ugly. But there was to be a happy ending when, after four years of being tormented by knee injuries, Ronaldo grabbed his chance of World Cup redemption by scoring the goals that helped Brazil beat Germany in the final in 2002. Older, wiser and a little larger, O Fenomeno was back.

De Futebol Brasil Blows out Austria 3-0

Brasil destroyed Austria 3-0 in the guy’s last match before the World Cup starts this Thursday in Russia.

The Daily Mail:” Brazil concluded their World Cup preparations in style with a convincing victory over Austria in Vienna on Sunday afternoon, with the man everybody is talking about, the returning Neymar, again getting back among the goals.

The world’s most expensive footballer is officially back with a bang, after missing the majority of the year so far through injury. His strike here in Vienna did not just confirm his return to the elite stage, but etched his name in Brazil’s record books.

Now on 55 strikes for his nation, Neymar drew level with Brazilian icon Romario. Only Ronaldo (62) and Pele (77) now have more that the 26-year-old pin-up boy

Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus opened the scoring for the Selecao after captialising on a rebound from a long-distance Marcelo shot.

The fleet-footed forward picked up the ball inside the area, flashing a quick check to ascertain being onside, before expertly opening up his body to curl the ball into the far corner of the goal past the helpless Austria ‘keeper Heinz Lindner.

The Selecao were left to rue further missed opportunities until the moment many inside the stadium had been expected happened, late in the second half.

A driving run from Willian put the Austrians on the back foot before the Chelsea man expertly picked out Neymar, lurking inside the area, with a chipped pass.

Making his first start since breaking a bone in his foot back in February Neymar twisted and turned, jinking around his marker before dropping a shoulder to set the goalkeeper off guard.

A clean sweep of the right foot and the ball was slotted home, with Brazil two goals to the good.

Moments later it was three, Philippe Coutinho getting in on the action after being played through on goal by his former Liverpool team-mate Roberto Firmino.

The playmaker enticed the goalkeeper off his line, before shaping up to dink the ball delicately into the exposed corner of the Austria net.

Firmino embraced his once Merseyside partner in crime as the duo sealed victory for Tite’s side, sending out a solid message to rivals ahead of the showpiece tournament in Russia.

Brazil will take to the competition among the favourites, though must overcome Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia in order to progress from Group E into the latter stages of the tournament.

The Selecao haven’t lifted the famous trophy since their triumph in Japan and South Korea in 2002.

With Neymar back, and in such tantalising early form, the tides could be set to turn in favour of the South Americans once more.

De Futebol Brasil wins! A 2-0 win over Croatia!

Neymar is back. He scored to lead Brasil to a 2-0 win over Croatia in a World Cup tune up match.

The Daily Mail:” The routine was just as you will have remembered: head bowed, hands pointing to heaven before blessing himself then breaking into a sprint.

It had been 98 days since Neymar had last gone through that custom before a game but here he was on the side of the pitch, bedecked in that famous, shimmering No 10 shirt of Brazil, ready for action just in time for the World Cup.

Neymar has been prolific on Instagram since breaking his metatarsal on February 25 – there have been 60 posts to his 93million followers, along with a raft of short video stories – but was he physically ready to be prolific in Russia? It was the only question that needed answering at Anfield.

He had eased himself into this friendly with Croatia, with a couple of routine passes and one shot that was comfortably gathered by Danijel Subasic but then, in the 69th minute, the world’s most expensive footballer came to life in the most glorious fashion.

After receiving a pass from Philippe Coutinho, Neymar began to dance into the area. His touch was sure and hypnotic, his intent clear – two Croatia defenders were put on their backsides as he moved his hips, then the ball, one way then another. The finish that followed was just as emphatic.

From the corner of the six-yard box, he hoodwinked another red-and-white shirt before slamming a drive into the roof of the net in front of The Kop. How he enjoyed it, heading off at speed and jumping into the air before being engulfed by his team-mates.

This was a goal that epitomised all that is good about Brazil, the skill and the effortless samba style, in one devastating moment yet, ironically, it didn’t even illicit the biggest cheer of the day – that was reserved for local hero Roberto Firmino’s injury time strike to complete a 2-0 win.

But the significance of this goal – his 54th for Brazil – could not be lost. It was, of course, spectacular but also soothing, reassuring a nation that the man in whom so many dreams are entrusted will be close to peaking for the opening World Cup assignment against Switzerland in Rostov.

To describe Brazil as a one-man team would be nonsense but what the Paris Saint-Germain star does is elevate them to another level entirely.

Before he had been introduced, they had looked tentative and struggled to breakdown Croatia’s defence, but Neymar transformed everything.

The first half, in terms of action, had been instantly forgettable. Brazil – the admirable Willian apart – operated at a speed that was only just above training ground level and Croatia actually had the best opportunity of the opening 45 minutes, when Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren crashed a header wide.

Croatia, whose World Cup group consists of Argentina, Nigeria and Iceland, were disciplined and looked comfortable but the sight of Neymar changed their mind-set and introduced doubt; they barely got forward in the second period, anxious about leaving space for Neymar to exploit.

Staying back, though, did them no good.

The more they retreated, the more it became inevitable that Brazil would score and so it proved.

The gloss was applied to the final score in injury time when Firmino raced onto a ball from Manchester City’s Danilo and lobbed Subasic.

De Futebol The Guys Get Ready for The World Cup

The guys have their next to last tune up match before the World Cup begins in Russia later today against Croatia at Anfield.

Globo Esporte:” Amistosos preparatórios para a Copa são comuns. Nos dias que antecedem a competição, várias seleções medem forças ao redor do mundo. Mas em 2018, o Brasil terá testes de mais peso. E bem diferentes de edições anteriores: pela primeira vez na história, por exemplo, a seleção brasileira vai enfrentar um rival que também está classificado para o Mundial nas vésperas do torneio.

Os croatas estão no grupo D da Copa ao lado de Argentina, Irlanda e Nigéria. Se classificaram para a Copa na repescagem das eliminatórias europeias e ocupam a 18º posição no ranking da Fifa, à frente de Costa Rica (25ª colocada) e Sérvia (35ª). Só ficam atrás da Suíça (6ª). O rival deste domingo ainda tem mais nomes de peso no futebol mundial do que todos os rivais da Seleção no Grupo E. Casos de Modric, Rakitic, Kovacic, Mandzukic e Perisic.

Antes do Mundial de 2014, o Brasil enfrentou a própria Sérvia e o Panamá. Ambas não disputaram aquela Copa. Quatro anos antes, os amistosos preparatórios foram contra rivais ainda mais fracos: Tanzânia e Zimbábue. Por vezes, clubes e seleções locais eram os adversários

Áustria derrotou a Sérvia nas eliminatórias

A Áustria se enquadra no perfil de seleções que não se classificaram para a Copa, mas ainda assim pode ser considerada uma boa adversária para o último amistoso. Explica-se: atual 26ª colocada no ranking da Fifa, a equipe aparece à frente da Sérvia na lista.

Inclusive, derrotou os sérvios nas eliminatórias europeias jogando em Viena por 3 a 2. Acabou eliminada na quarta colocação com 15 pontos. A Sérvia fez 21 e ficou na primeira posição do grupo.

De Futebol Brasil names its squad for The 2018 World Cup

Brasil’s head man Tite names his squad for the World Cup.

The Daily Mail: “ Brazil boss Tite has named his 23-man squad ahead of this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

Tite’s men take on Switzerland in 34 days for their opening Group E game and they have a squad bursting with talent and experience.

Star man Neymar has recently returned to fitness and despite not playing for club side Paris-Saint Germain, the samba star is still expected to play a pivotal role for his country in this summer’s tournament.

Brazil doctor Rodrigo Lasmar said in a news conference in Rio de Janeiro he examined Neymar on the weekend and the results were positive.

‘This is the final stage of his recovery, he will be able to go to training sessions soon, and will play the friendlies,’ Lasmar said.

Having revealed the team to the gathered media, Tite reaffirmed that some of his selection decisions had been made.

‘We will be much stronger with Neymar doing well, but for him to do well the rest of the team has to be well, too,’ he said.

‘At first, Gabriel Jesus is our starter. But Roberto Firmino will fight for that position in top form.’

The inclusion of Taison, the coach admitted, suggested Philippe Coutinho could be taking a role in central midfield which provides a spot for Willian.

‘Coutinho can play in the middle and in the flanks, he is versatile,’ Tite added.

‘Sometimes preparation gives you elements that you didn’t have, and force you to change your mind.’

Manchester City have four representatives in the squad with goalkeeper Ederson, defender Danilo, midfielder Fernandinho and striker Jesus all making the cut.

Premier League duo Firmino and Willian complete the players plying their trade in England.

Tite may be forgiven for having one eye on the Champions League final in Kiev between Liverpool and Real Madrid as three of his key men all feature: Firmino for Liverpool and Marcelo and Casemiro for Real Madrid.

With injuries this close to the tournament likely to end any hopes of playing, the 56-year-old boss will be hoping for a clean bill of health between now and the opening game.

The biggest question mark now remains around who will replace Neymar’s club team-mate Dani Alves at right back after he suffered a season-ending injury during the French Cup final.

Alves was in the starting side named by Tite back in February as the boss took the bizarre move in revealing his team selection – allowing their opponents to do plenty of homework.

‘The 11 who will start are Alisson; Marcelo, Miranda, Marquinhos, Dani Alves; Paulinho, Renato Augusto and Casemiro, Neymar, Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus,’ Tite said in an interview with UOL Esportes.

But knee ligament damage to the veteran defender, described by Tite on Monday as ‘a guy who has a huge heart and exemplary courage’, has forced the manager to go back to the drawing board.

Fagner, the 28-year-old Corinthians full back, appears the man set to challenge Danilo for the spot unless Tite averts from his preferred 4-3-3 system.

De Futebol Brasil Defeats Germany in a World Cup Tune Up Match

Brasil got a measure of revenge against Germany. The guys  defeated Germany 1-0 at the Germans house in a World Cup tune up match.

The Guardian” Brazil defeated Germany 1-0 in Berlin to end the world champions’ 22-game unbeaten run and restore some lost pride following the humiliating mismatch between the sides in their previous meeting, when Germany crushed the hosts 7-1 in that freakish World Cup semi-final in Belo Horizonte in 2014.

Gabriel Jesus’s first-half header settled the friendly and provided his side with a welcome confidence boost less than three months before the World Cup starts. Brazil did not concede during the international break as they also defeated Russia 3-0 in Moscow.

Jesus made the breakthrough seven minutes before the interval when the goalkeeper, Kevin Trapp, flapped at his powerful but centrally positioned header and allowed the ball go in. Willian’s cross came in with pace and Jesus was only five metres from goal but the goalkeeper was in position to make the save.

Jesus had missed a good chance minutes earlier when he left two Germany defenders sprawling on a counterattack and then fired over with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Ilkay Gundogan had the home side’s best chance when he mishit the ball after Julian Draxler pulled it back.

The referee, Jonas Eriksson, asked the Brazil captain, Dani Alves, to calm his players down after Toni Kroos felt the effect of yet another robust challenge.

Brazil emerged with more intent after the break, with Antonio Rüdiger blocking Willian and Paulinho drawing a good save from Trapp off the rebound, before Philippe Coutinho fired just over.

Joshua Kimmich produced a vital interception to deny Coutinho, and Jesus missed an open goal from the resultant corner.

At the other end Sandro Wagner twice headed good chances wide but that was as close as Germany got as Brazil adopted a 6-3-1 formation to protect their lead.”

De Futebol Brasil Destroys Russia 3-0 in a World Cup Tune Up Match!

Minus Neymar Brasil blows out Russia 3-0 in a World Cup tune up match.

The Daily Mail:” When Stanislav Cherchesov was appointed as head coach of Russia in 2016 there was one clear objective: reach the semi-finals of the World Cup on home soil.

That target has always seemed absurdly unrealistic and is even more so after this disappointing collapse against five-time world champions Brazil.

The idea behind this friendly against Brazil in Moscow and Tuesday’s game against France in Saint Petersburg is to build interest among supporters.

Unfortunately any side who test themselves against Brazil often come unstuck. That eventually happened with Miranda, Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho all scoring in a second half that made Russia appear very ordinary against one of world football’s super powers.

Not one of Russia’s starting line-up play outside the Russian Premier League. Cherchesov didn’t take any risks and opted for a 3-5-2 formation with the intention of stopping Brazil from easily passing their way to victory in the Luzhniki Stadium, which will host the final at this summer’s tournament.

It was a clever strategy by the former Legia Warsaw manager and it took a direct approach for Brazil to work their first opening. Dani Alves passing the ball over 30 yards to Gabriel Jesus but Igor Akinfeev moved quickly to deny him from close range.

There was concern for the Manchester City forward when he went down under a robust challenge by defender Fyodor Kudryashov.

He has struggled with a long-term knee injury but was able to continue after receiving treatment.

Brazil had lost only once in their last 17 games before this game but were nearly behind shortly before half-time.

Aleksei Miranchuk, who along with Aleksandr Samedov and Alan Dzagoev, is someone who will be relied upon to help Russia get out of Group A against Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay.

He won’t get many better chances than the one that was presented to him when Fyodor Smolov worked the ball into the six-yard area only for Miranchuk to shoot over.

Brazil needed little invitation after half-time in giving Russia a lesson in finishing – a lesson that would have been flawless had Paulinho not missed a simple chance three yards out.

Willian’s deflected effort off Samedov required an excellent reaction save by Ikinfeev to keep Russia level.

But the 31-year-old goalkeeper would have little joy a minute later after Willian moved forward unchallenged. His cross was headed towards goal by Thiago Silva. Akinfeev did well to keep out the Paris Saint-Germain defender’s effort but couldn’t stop Miranda scoring from the rebound.

At that point you expected Russia to retreat. They didn’t do that. Dzagoev came on for Miranchuk and Russia looked positive for nine minutes at least until Aleksandr Golovkin brought down Paulinho inside his own box.

Coutinho dispatched the spot kick calmly to notch his ninth goal in 33 appearances for Brazil, and from that moment Russia faded. Paulinho added a third goal after more clever play from Willian.

Brazil will be given a sterner test when they head to Berlin to play Germany on Tuesday.

Tite’s players are more focused than the side that were humiliated 7-1 in Belo Horizonte four years ago. There was a sign of defensive weakness in Brazil’s backline late on in Moscow when Thiago Silva had to clear off the line after goalkeeper Alisson was chipped after he moved out of position.

De Futebol Brasil wins and Chile is out of the 2018 World Cup

Brasil blows out Chile 3-0. The loss killed Chile’s shot a 2018 World Cup spot. The loss drops the Chileans into sixth place with 26 points. Peru has 26 points tambem. Peru is a plus one while Chile is a minus one.

Chile is out and Peru is on to the playoff round of the 2018 World Cup.

The Daily Mail:” Alexis Sanchez and Chile will have to watch the World Cup from home after being dumped out of qualifying on a night of high drama in South America.

With all eyes on Lionel Messi and Argentina, who faced the real prospect of missing out on the tournament but ultimately made it through after coming from behind to beat Ecuador, Paulinho and Gabriel Jesus struck for a Brazil side long assured of their place to ensure Chile were the major casualties as they missed out on a play-off on goal difference as they were pipped by Peru.

Paulinho profited from an error by Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to poke home the first before Manchester City man Jesus found an open net just two minutes later following a stunning piece of skill from Neymar.

Chile could find no answer as they desperately searched for a route to Russia, with Bravo sent up in search of a goal, but as play broke down Brazil cleared to Jesus who beat the Chilean goalkeeper in a foot race to find an empty net.

The back-to-back Copa America winners sunk to their knees and lay flat out on the turf at the final whistle, with the team ranked ninth in the world facing up to the prospect of having to watch next summer’s football festival from home.

The hosts went into the game as the only South American side to have punched their ticket and had the better of the opening exchanges in Sao Paulo and spent the majority of the half on the front foot, but only really tested Claudio Bravo in the Chile goal when Neymar scrambled through and forced the Manchester City goalkeeper to get down well to save at his near post.

Lionel Messi’s first-half rescue act for Argentina, which saw the Barcelona man strike twice to turn things around and give them the lead in Ecuador after conceding early, left Chile in a precarious position as they slipped to fourth, knowing falling behind would see them down to fifth and facing the prospect of a play-off against New Zealand.

But they stood firm heading into half-time and managed some late pressure on the Brazil back-line without ever forcing Ederson into action in the Brazil goal.

Chile, though were in serious trouble as the hour mark approached, with Brazil scoring twice to cast major doubts over their place in Russia. First, Paulinho profited after Claudio Bravo spilled a Dani Alves free-kick into his path, before Gabriel Jesus found an open goal when slotted in by Neymar just minutes later.

As it stood Chile were missing out completely, but the picture changed again when Colombia took the lead against Peru, which saw Sanchez and Co jump back into the play-off place.

That place was again lost with 10 minutes to play as Peru grabbed an equaliser against Colombia and, with Chile desperately looking for a leveler, Jesus slotted the second as he beat Bravo in a foot race after the visiting goalkeeper had been sent forward for a corner.