Brazil – Portugal
In a calendar year that included both Copa América and World Cup qualification, this was Brazil’s fifth match of 1989. They had been succesful against Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru in friendlies on home soil, and had also drawn away to the latter. To mark the 75th anniversary of the Brazilian football federation, they had invited their dearest European friends Portugal, who themselves were well under way in their own quest to try and reach Italy ’90. The Portuguese had played their third World Cup qualifier, all at home, less than six weeks earlier when they had won 3-1 against Switzerland, and they were looking to hold their own against Belgium and Czechoslovakia, who were Portugal’s main rivals for qualification.
Portugal manager Juca did not have a full pool of players to select from for the trip across the Atlantic Ocean. He had already used as many as 22 players during their three qualifying matches. Five players had played in all three: Goalkeeper Silvino, attacking midfielder/forward Rui Barros, centre-back Sobrinho and midfielders Nunes and Vítor Paneira. The two former were not available, so Juca decided to give Vitória Guimarães ‘keeper Neno a chance. He had been Silvino’s understudy and been seen on the bench so far in the qualification. It seemed reasonable that he would get the chance to show what he could do. The match at Maracanã would indeed be his first cap. Rui Barros’ season at Juventus was still in progress (Serie A played its final set of fixtures as late as June 25 in ’89), so his omission had been an expected one. 32 year old Porto midfielder António Sousa had featured against both Belgium and Switzerland, but did also not travel. Yet another absent midfield man was António André, who had played in the 3-1 win against the Swiss. This led to Belenenses man Juanico being called up for his international bow, and there was also a recall for Porto’s José Semedo, whose only feature so far in the qualification had come against Belgium in the 1-1 draw. Yet another non-capped player in Portimonense’s 20 year young Vado had also travelled with the squad to South America. A flank alternative for Juca was Boavista’s Jaime Alves, who had started at full-back in the 1-0 win against Luxembourg.
Juca had chosen Porto’s Fernando Gomes and veteran Jordão from Vitória Setúbal for the strikers’ positions in their opening qualifier against lowly Luxembourg. Neither would feature at international level again, so Gomes, who had captained Portugal that night, made sure to exit with aplomb as he had scored the only goal of the game. The Spanish league had also yet not finished, which meant that Atlético Madrid’s Futre was unavailable. This prompted Juca to recall Rui Águas from Porto for his seventh cap. He had not played as much as a minute during Portugal’s three qualifying matches, and his only involvement with the national team so far in 1989 had come in their 6-0 friendly win against Angola in March, to mark their own FA’s 75th anniversary. Another player with attacking intent would be another Portimonense man in César Brito (24).
To recap: Portugal were without the service of Silvino, Rui Barros, Futre, Jaime Magalhães, Sousa and André. They would rely on Brazil also not fielding their strongest possible team, and if Juca had had such prayers, they had been heard. His counterpart Lazaroni in the Brazilian dug-out also had to make do without a lot of star names, most notably European based forwards Careca, Romário and Müller, as well as Italy based midfielders Alemão, Dunga and Tita. There was also no Ricardo Rocha in the squad for whatever reason. However, with both Mozer, Aldair and Ricardo Gomes available, Mr Lazaroni did seem well equipped for the central defensive positions. There was also star full-back Jorginho, who would soon leave his Flamengo to play for Bayer Leverkusen, and the ever-dependable Mazinho would fight it out with Branco, now firmly established in Portugal with Porto, for the left-back slot. With no Taffarel to keep goal, this task fell to Acácio, who did seem highly rated in Brazil at the time, having featured in three of their four internationals so far in ’89. Even if it was not a full-blooded ‘World Cup team’ from Brazil’s part, they would yet field a lot of gifted players, and they would combine this with some fine talent from their domestic top flight.
Portugal had an abysmal record against Brazil, with only two wins from 13, losing no less than ten. They had not met since a 4-0 Brazil win in Coimbra, Portugal, on the very same date six years earlier. Both Careca (twice) and the well-known Sócrates had been on the score sheet for Brazil that day. This had in fact been Adelino Nunes’ international debut, and the Portuguese midfield man was the only survivor from this match in the visiting camp as Silvino, winning his second cap that time, did not take part on this occasion.
Set to referee was Uruguayan Juan Cardellino, aged 47. He had officiated in two matches during the 1982 World Cup in Spain, where he had indeed been tasked with the semi-final meeting between Italy and Poland. So he was a well-respected gentleman. Señor Cardellino later passed away after a time of illness in 2007, at the age of 65.
The Rio evening holds 23 degrees around the time of kick-off.
|Vasco da Gama
|2 Jorginho (c)
|4 Ricardo Gomes
|Vasco da Gama
|10 Edu Manga
|Vasco da Gama
|19 Zé Carlos
|2 João Pinto (c)
|7 Vítor Paneira
|8 César Brito
|9 Rui Águas
|11 Jorge Semedo
|14 Jaime Alves
We see Brazil in a compact 4-4-2, where their midfield more or less has a diamond shape, although one does suspect that Silas and Valdo are originally said to be ‘wide’ men, right and left respectively. However, they are both a lot more keen to operate in central areas, and in particular Silas. Valdo can be seen towards the left hand side on a few occasions. As the midfield has little width, there is a lot of space for the full-backs to attack, and Jorginho on the right does this quite a bit, Mazinho a bit more sparingly. Bebeto also comes out into the right hand side territory on a good few occasions during the opening half. Bernardo appears to be the more restrictive of the four midfielders. At the back, Ricardo Gomes does seem to take out a bit more depth than Mozer, with the latter playing to the right of these two.
Portugal’s 4-5-1 also sees the left-sided of the two stoppers add a bit of depth, as Frederico seems to have more responsibility than Sobrinho in this department. With Portugal at times pinned back inside their own half, there is not an awful lot of attacking forays by either full-back, although they do not seem tactically restricted by their manager. Nunes sits in the holding role in midfield, with Juanico to his right clearly the player they wish to be on the ball. Semedo to Nunes’ left is more of a hard worker. Vítor Paneira keeps decent width on the right hand side and is often the outlet whom the more central midfielders can find with a pass, whilst César Brito on the opposite side is less likely to stick to his wide position. With Rui Águas operating as the lone striker, he does at times have César Brito in support, and the latter does operate in a more advanced position than Vítor Paneira down the opposite flank.
A couple of minutes before half time, Juca makes a tactical switch in taking Nunes off for wide midfielder Jaime Alves, who goes into Vítor Paneira’s right sided role, with the Benfica number 7 taking over Juanico’s role as the central right of the three midfield men. Juanico takes over for Nunes in the holding role.
After all seven substitutes had appeared:
The first switch had happened just before half-time, with Juca clearly not pleased. Then Brazil would change their personnel around and give some playing time to a few of those on the bench, usually seeing straight swaps, with a couple of notable exceptions. The first two were brought on simultaneously when Cristóvão (replacing Silas) and Geovani (replacing Edu) were introduced. There appeared to be no tactical reformation as a result. Then Branco comes on for captain Jorginho, meaning left-back Mazinho goes across to take up right-back duties, and with the substitute coming in at left-back, as you would expect. Mozer takes over captaincy from Jorginho.
Portugal will then bring on Vado for Semedo, and he goes straight into the role of the player he replaces.
Brazil bring on their fourth substitute right after Charles’ goal for 4-0. Zé Carlos replaces Bebeto, and with it comes a change in formation: Brazil go 4-5-1. Bernardo sits in the holding role, Cristóvão and Geovani are respectively right and left of him in the centre, whilst Zé Carlos takes up a right wing role, Valdo down the left. Charles is up top on his own for the remainder of the game, but there is no shortage in midfielders coming to join attack when they’re in possession.
The fifth and final substitution happens when Aldair gets a few minutes for Mozer towards the end. Ricardo Gomes is Brazil’s third captain of the afternoon.
Kick-off belongs to the visitors from Europe. It is César Brito and Rui Águas who set the game in motion.
Juanico is making his international debut due to a few absences, and it only takes him 20 seconds to give the ball away inside his own half, and Edu does not need a second invitation to have a shot from all of 30 yards. He hits it with a lot of power, but it just goes wide of Neno’s upright. The home side seem to have set the tone, and if this is how it is going to be, then Portugal are in for a sweaty afternoon.
It had been said about some of legendary 80s manager Telê Santana’s teams that they appeared in the shape of 4-2-2-2. It was relatively unheard of at that time to use more than three figures when describing a formation, but then again the contemporaries often saw that team of the Spain World Cup as living legends. So if a team deserved to deviate from a common pattern, then they surely were the ones. Whether this Lazaroni team, however, carried a 4-2-2-2 shape is another question. During the opening ten minutes they do keep possession and find various methods to try out the Portuguese rear lines. And most of the possession is seen from the home side’s midfielders, where Edu really sticks out early on, possibly buoyed by his early attempt. He is in the centre of attention and appears to be a player that the home team want on the ball, despite the presence of internationally known playmakers such as Silas and Valdo. In a 4-4-2, the two latter could be said to belong to each their flank: Silas right, Valdo left. In practice, it wasn’t quite that simple. Both Silas in particular and also Valdo were time and again seeking to get into more central positions to be a greater part of Brazilian build-up play, just like you would expect from players who are used to directing play in their respective club sides. Yet it seems that when the boys in yellow and blue decide to attack with pace and intent along their flanks that the Portuguese are put under a higher level of trouble, as it stretches their defence. Portugal have captain João Pinto at right-back, in 1989 clearly one of Europe’s finest in his position, but he does not receive a lot of help from Vítor Paneira and Juanico just ahead of him, and when faced with both Edu and Valdo there is little he can do when the Brazilians wish to swing a cross over from his side. Benfica’s Veloso is also no mean performer, but he is still probably a step down from his captain at the other side. With Bebeto pulling into a wide right position at will early on, Veloso’s defensive mettle is also put to the test, and certainly so when Bebeto’s accompanied by Silas and possibly even full-back Jorginho, who is rarely afraid of making runs deep into enemy territory. One can see from the opening ten minutes that Portugal will clearly continue to struggle if they can not keep possession for longer moments than they do so far.
As the first half progresses and the Portuguese grow gradually into the game, they too show how they wish to attack: They have in Vítor Paneira along the right hand touchline a player gifted with such technique that he can take on his man and cause a lot of havoc even when slightly isolated. He will have been the sole Portugal player that the Brazilians had been warned about beforehand, but he still manages to leave a decent impression within the opening 20 minutes, despite the home side’s territorial advantage. They play with Rui Águas in a lone striker’s role, and whereas he’s usually seen as a player with decent aerial ability, his efforts above the ground are in vain when faced with central defenders the size and agility of Mozer and Ricardo Gomes: Making aerial inroads is not Portugal’s recipe for troubling the home defence. They chose to challenge the Brazilian flanks, and not just through Vítor Paneira but also in setting up César Brito down the opposite flank. César Brito does not possess the same level of technical ability that the Portugal number 7 does, but he’s a determined player and is yet able to carry the ball at pace when faced with an opponent. He shows this particular skill just after the 15 minute mark, and his aim is to get to the byline. However, he is crowded out, and when trying to find assistance in Nunes, he proceeds to give the ball away to Silas. Acácio, the home goalkeeper, has yet not been worked inside the opening 20 minutes.
A notable feature in Bernardo, the most defensive of the home team’s four midfield men, is his size and physique. In periods of play when Brazil are on the back foot, he would probably be the perfect shield just in front of his two stoppers. Here, his seemingly enormous physique is rarely called upon, as Portugal are not much of a threat from central positions. Bernardo has even showed that he is capable of playing a bit too, as he had made a fine run from a central position and out towards the left corner of the visitors’ penalty area before trying to swing a cross into the box for Charles, who had just wandered offside. Charles is a player who will be a relatively unknown quantity outside of Brazil, but he too leaves a decent impression in the way he cleverly runs off the ball, trying to stretch Sobrinho, the right-sided of the two visiting central defenders. He seems equipped with decent physique, but probably lacks the kind of technical ability usually found in Brazilian attackers. However, even the legendary ’82 World Cup team had had a forward by the name of Serginho who had hardly been in the side for his skills along the deck. Charles did seem a cut above Serginho. And he was more visible than his forward partner Bebeto had been during the first 20 minutes or so of the opening period.
Portugal’s central midfield three was probably the greatest reason why the visitors had spells where they struggled to keep possession. There was Nunes as the most deep-lying: a tall, slender figure who was not particularly equipped with technical ability. Then there was debutant Juanico, who did like to be on the ball, but who hardly had pace in anything that he did. The final player in that trio was the more defensively minded José Semedo, who was clearly not too comfortable when in possession. Such a midfield just did not seem competent enough to cause Brazil much concern. And it showed in the opening half.
Despite Brazil’s supremacy in possession, they were not working Portugal debutant goalkeeper Neno an awful lot. Yet it does only feel like a matter of time before the home side go in front, and when they do it is as Valdo slips an exquisite pass through the centre for Bebeto to coolly slot past Neno low to the right. Sobrinho had been attending to Charles, while Frederico had been caught ball watching. Hence Bebeto was able to finish totally unmarked. And it will not go long until the ball again’s in the back of the net, this time when Mazinho’s been fed down the left by Valdo. As his low cross made its way into the box, it did not reach as far as its destination, which had been Bebeto again: Sobrinho attempted a clearance which unfortunately only sliced into his own goal via the left hand post. Bebeto had been marked by Frederico on this occasion, so it remains unclear whether the striker would actually have got on the end of Mazinho’s cross. As it were, Brazil were two up. Juca would probably need to have a long look at his alternatives if this continued. Their midfield was simply not up to the necessary level.
There had been one booking, and it fell to Juanico right after Brazil’s first goal as he had brought Edu down with a poorly timed tackle from behind. However, Nunes also appeared to be in danger of having his name taken, as he had also brought the same player down with pretty much an identical tackle earlier, and he was also seen lashing out for Edu with his right foot without catching the Brazil number 10. The visiting midfield were clearly feeling frustrated as they could get no grip on the game whatsoever. And before half time Juca decided to ring the changes when he took the rather miserable Nunes off and replaced him with Jaime Alves, a player typically seen as an attacking full-back or as a wide midfielder. The substitution saw Vítor Paneira come into the midfield three to add some desperately needed mobility, and Juanico took up the departed Nunes’ role as the midfield stabilizer. Jaime Alves came into Vítor Paneira’s right wing position, and equipped with pace Juca was surely hoping that he could challenge Mazinho down the Portuguese right.
Before Portugal had got as far as making their change in tactics as well as personnel, Brazil had had opportunities to increase their lead. Valdo, so much at the heart of good things to come from the home side’s midfield, thread an immaculate pass through for Charles to run onto, and when firing a low diagonal shot from just inside the penalty area under the attention of Sobrinho, he saw Neno make a fine right-legged save. The forward had again showed his ability to run cleverly off the ball, and this was his best chance to score yet. Soon Jorginho would make one of his trademark darts towards the byline, and as his cross just evaded Neno’s outstretched hand, it landed onto Bebeto’s head on the far post, with the striker unable to get any kind of direction on it. It went up in the air and could have come down for Charles, but again Sobrinho was recovering and able to see the ball out for a goal kick after Charles had got a touch. The relatively sparse crowd inside the huge Maracanã were enjoying themselves. Brazil were showing the kind of attacking play that they had come to see. And yet before Juca has time to bring Jaime Alves on, there’s a vast opportunity for Bebeto to score a third for a rampant home team: Silas plays Charles into the left side of the penalty area, and as the striker gets past João Pinto and fires in a cross, Frederico’s attempted clearance slices off his boot and finds its way to Brazil’s number 7 at the back post. With the goal gaping, Bebeto takes his eyes off the ball and places his inside finish well wide. It has to be said that the Maracanã pitch was very uneven, and the ball would be seen taking surprising directions every now and then. Half-time and 2-0.
Charles and Bebeto start the second period as they kick off for the home side.
Any Portuguese hopes of making a comeback were quashed within a couple of minutes after the restart. Charles had challenged João Pinto along the Brazil left channel, and the visiting captain had to concede a corner. The left-handed flag kick was swung over by Valdo, and Ricardo Gomes easily won in the air against Rui Águas and headed home despite Neno getting a hand to the ball. However, his wrist had not been firm enough, and he only contrived to help the ball into the back of the net after the centre back’s header had come off the ground. 3-0 and already game over. Clearly not the start to the half that Juca would have wanted. Did he have something up his sleeve?
For a ten minute spell after the third home goal, Portugal are able to hold more onto the ball. The switch with bringing more mobility into the central midfield three appears to have done them good, but their sudden increase in possession could also be down to decisions from the home bench, as Brazil are clearly lying deeper in the ten minutes after Ricardo Gomes’ goal. Vítor Paneira is a player who thrives when he’s involved a lot, and having been something of a peripheral figure out wide in the latter parts of the opening half, he takes responsibility from his more central role early in the second half. On eight minutes he advances and fires a shot from just over 20 yards, but straight at the yet unworked Acácio. A few minutes later the Benfica ace makes it past tackles from Silas and Valdo before he uses his body strength to push Mazinho out of the way to make it to the byline. There he runs into the tower of strength that is Bernardo, who finally halts Vítor Paneira’s run and guides the ball back to his goalkeeper. Yet the signs are clear: get your number 7 on the ball and you shall improve!
Just before the hour mark there’s an appeal for a Brazilian penalty as Charles goes to the ground inside the visitors’ area following a challenge from Frederico. No one could have made a lot of protests had Mr Cardellino awarded Brazil a spot-kick, but the striker is disciplined enough not to make a fuss about it. Portugal could do well with some decisions in their favour to try and get a bit of luck. They might have less of a difficult time as long as Brazil lie deeper, but they are given heeds of warning as soon as the home team decide to break at pace. On one occasion Bebeto sends Jorginho away down the left (!), and he tries to cross deep for either Silas or Charles, who are both seen inside the Portuguese box. Semedo has to make a spectacular clearance away for another corner-kick.
Typical for friendlies is that the second half is lower in intensity than the opening period. This often has to do with the fact that a flurry of substitutes are being introduced, and this match is no different. However, the pace after the half-time break has been lower than it had been during the opening 45 even before Mr Lazaroni decided to think about making substitutions, as they were aware they could not sustain the same level of midfield aggression throughout the match. At 3-0, they certainly could afford to sit back and invite the visitors onto them. Not that there was a lot of threat coming from the Portuguese despite their increasing amount of possession. It has to be said, though, that César Brito was coming more into the game from his left-sided role, and he would also appear in a more central position, almost as a second striker alongside Rui Águas. César Brito was able to take a man on, and was one of the better away players on the day. On 16 minutes he was brought down by Mozer on 25 yards, but the subsequent free-kick was wasted by Juanico, who shot wide to the right of Acácio’s goal. Another moment from the visitors came when Vítor Paneira lifted a ball for Rui Águas to chase into the left side of the penalty area, and although his angle for a shot was not the best, he managed to work the goalkeeper into giving a rebound, which only went as far as Mozer, though. Portugal were at least asking a couple of questions from the home team, but they were still not a major threat. And by now a couple of their players were probably already accepting defeat, clearly not giving their all in every challenge. Perhaps dramatically, it would be star players Vítor Paneira and João Pinto showing this kind of decline in work ethic. The introduction of substitutes began when Edu and Silas went off simultaneously to be replaced by Cristóvão and Geovani around the 65 minute mark. Mr Lazaroni would also take his captain off and replace him with Branco a few minutes later, prompting a switch in captaincy with Mozer taking over the armband. It also meant Mazinho would come across to take over as right-back, with Branco, a team mate of João Pinto’s at Porto, coming into his usual left-back position. Within a few minutes after coming on, Branco had a vicious attempt from all of 25 yards, a shot which had to be tipped over by Neno. Had he managed to angle his shot to either side, it would have crept in; such was the force behind it.
4-0 arrives as something of a coincidence, although the build-up had been good, involving Mazinho and Bebeto. The latter gets free inside the Portuguese penalty area and sees through the corner of his eye Charles available on the far post. Bebeto, who had originally thought of having a shot at goal, changed his mind in the last second and managed to get the ball across to Charles, despite Neno’s dive towards the ball. However, Bebeto’s strike partner mistimed his reception and the ball bounced away from him. Luck was on his side as it only came off Veloso, who tried in vain to clear the ball, only for Charles to get a final touch to see the ball trickle across the goal line for a thoroughly scrappy fourth. Yet the striker deserved to be rewarded for his efforts.
There is not a lot of interest happening inside the final 15 minutes. The only points of interest are trying to evaluate the substitutes who have appeared and who will appear. The visitors only make a total of two substitutions in the match, and with Jaime Alves having come on in the dying minutes of the opening period, they only bring on midfielder Vado for Semedo during the second half. It seems an improvement, as Vado is seeking to get on the ball to try and be creative. However, at the point of his introduction, there are a few of his team mates who have lost their interest for the game. Vado appears to combine well with César Brito, perhaps not so strange considering they both play towards the left hand side of the pitch and also are team mates at Portimonense. The home side make a change in formation right after the fourth goal and with the introduction of Zé Carlos for Bebeto. Zé Carlos takes up a right handed midfield role, leaving Charles up front on his own, and with Bernardo going into an anchor role just ahead of Geovani and Cristóvão in central midfield.
Aldair is the fifth and final substitute among the home team. His appearance is a brief one as he replaces Mozer only three minutes from time. Ricardo Gomes becomes the third Brazil player to wear the captain’s armband for the day, but it is all academic at this point. Mr Cardellino from Uruguay also realizes there’s little reason to continue much beyond the 45 minute mark, so he signals an end to the match 26 seconds into time added on.
Portugal will clearly suffer more from not having their absentees available than the home team will. There has to be question marks around the composition of the Portuguese central midfield: There was not enough pace, strength nor vision to worry the home side, who eventually romped to victory. Brazil were dominant in possession during the opening half, and they could have scored more than the two they got. As soon as they had increased their lead through Ricardo Gomes’ fine header via the ground, it was clear that the game was over as a contest, and some of the visitors’ better players lost interest. Despite this, the Portuguese enjoyed a greater level of possession after the break, but their few attempts to trouble the home side’s goal were futile. It was no great surprise that Brazil added a fourth, despite the goal having an element of luck in it. Portugal showed that they will need to have all their best players available for selection to be a force to be reckoned with, whereas Brazil appeared to be well rehearsed ahead of the upcoming Copa América.
1 Acácio 6.7
2 Jorginho 6.8
(15 Branco -)
3 Mozer 6.9
(13 Aldair -)
4 Ricardo Gomes 7.2
5 Mazinho 6.9
6 Bernardo 7.0
7 Bebeto 6.9
(19 Zé Carlos -)
8 Silas 6.8
(17 Cristóvão -)
9 Charles 7.2
10 Edu 7.0
(17 Geovani -)
11 Valdo 7.3
1 Neno 6.6
2 João Pinto 6.5
3 Frederico 6.4
4 Sobrinho 6.4
5 Veloso 6.6
6 Nunes 6.1
(14 Jaime Alves 6.4)
7 Vítor Paneira 6.7
8 César Brito 6.8
9 Rui Águas 6.6
10 Juanico 6.3
11 Semedo 6.1
(15 Vado -)