In the 1974 World Cup Brazil took such a beating from Holland that four years later it was obsessed with imitating the "total football" of the Dutch, with their constant positional changes and intense pressure on the ball. It didn't work. As one Brazilian journalist commented, "in a team game like soccer you need to have the right cultural base to introduce modifications."
PLAYER OF THE DECADE: Zinedine Zidane, France Zizou gets our Player of the Decade nod, barely beating out Ronaldinho, who also won two World Player of the Year awards this decade but didn't have anything approaching Zidane's longevity at the top of the global game. No player since Diego Maradona has provided as much joy to viewers who love the artistry of soccer. Case in point: France's stunning upset of Brazil in the 2006 World Cup quarterfinals, in which Zidane rediscovered his mojo on the game's biggest stage. (Bonus points for scoring the greatest goal of the decade in the 2002 Champions League final against Bayer Leverkusen.)
I'm never a big fan of sports being reduced to soap opera. There's much more going on than the emotional drama and the athlete's state of mind. We can talk about "focus" and "concentration'' all we want -- at times they're used like magic words that explain everything about the outcome.
We're nearly halfway through the marathon campaign of South American qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, and the past week of action has been one of the more wild and unpredictable so far. Here are five things we've learned after seeing all 10 countries in action:
Now that the adrenaline rush of the transfer window has passed, attention turns to international soccer and the road to South Africa 2010. South America's marathon World Cup qualification campaign is well underway -- this coming weekend marks the seventh of the 18 rounds played -- and there's plenty at stake in all five of the matches on the calendar.
Robinho's 65th-minute strike was enough to settle a lackluster encounter at chilly Croke Park and send the Republic of Ireland back to the harsh reality of their increasingly frustrating managerial hunt.
In the summer of 1988, Brazilian striker Müller left São Paulo to join Torino of Italy. Some 19 years later, in the middle of 2007, Corinthians attacking midfielder Willian embarked on his own European adventure, moving to Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk.
Afonso Alves may not be the best-known or biggest Brazilian star playing in Europe but that could all change if the Heerenveen forward continues in the goalscoring form that saw him find the net seven times for the Dutch side at the weekend.
Qualifying for the World Cup is no cakewalk, even for Brazil. Luiz Felipe Scolari's side struggled to make it to Japan and South Korea in 2002 -- indeed, without a couple of strokes being pulled, Brazil may well have missed out entirely on the competition it ended up winning.