Diana is from California but grew up in Iraq, within a culture in which it was frowned upon for females to play football. This has led her to write about issues within the game that are culturally rooted with the aim to voice these to a wider audience. For inspirational writing and for work on the cultural side of football, please read Diana's brilliant work.
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What makes a team “perfect”? Is it measured by the amount of goals they score? The players making up that team? The technique they play football? Their wins? Perhaps the impact that team has on future generations? Or maybe winning a momentous tournament with style and flair to proclaim themselves as the greatest team international football has ever seen?
So, how do we determine a “perfect” side? With a team that accomplishes all of the above criteria of course! A team that best represents the encapsulation of everybody’s football dreams, playing entertaining and jaw-droppingly brilliant football while making it look oh so simple.
The year is 1970, the first World Cup to be held outside of Europe or South America, the first World Cup to be broadcasted live in color and the last time the Jules Rimet Trophy will be presented to the winner. This was destined to be an exceptional tournament.
The Brazilian team in 1970 was arguably the finest International XI to ever grace a football pitch. A team full of superstars. However, they played like a team who did not count on one player. Pelé, Tostão, Jairzinho and Rivellino were stellar forwards. Carlos Alberto was an inspiring captain as well as a classic fullback who had the skills of a forward. Clodoaldo, a creative maestro. And the cherry on top of it all was Gerson, the iconic template for the modern, all-purpose midfielders of today.
This is the side against which all others are measured. No other has come close to threatening this state of glory. Winning all 6 of their qualification matches, Brazil were hungry for World Cup success. Managed by Mário Zagallo, who previously won 2 World Cup trophies as a player – he knew what physical challenges lay in store for his players, especially in the Mexican heat high above sea level. He confidently made various changes in the team and tailored it to his style and put his tactical scheme in place. The outcome was something out of a mythical book.
Winning every match they played during the tournament, but doing it with such style that few World Cup squads have matched after them. With much emphasis on attacking and with the richest blend of youth and experience, speed and skill, power and grace the world has ever seen. Scoring 19 goals in the process, a feat never repeated. Jairzinho netted 7 goals in 6 matches, making him one of only two players to score in every match in World Cup history – the other being Alcides Ghiggia.
Brazil achieved the pinnacle of success by winning the World Cup without losing or drawing a single game.
During the final against one of the finest Italian sides ever, Brazil scored one of the most breathtakingly beautiful team goals of all time. Only that team could’ve scored that goal. A truly fitting grand finale to end their impeccable performance.
Eight players were involved directly in a move which started from their own box.
Then Clodoaldo picked up the ball, effortlessly dazzles four Italians, then passed it to Rivelino who passed it down the wing to Jairzinho who zipped inside and passed the ball to Pelé, who received the ball, spun to face the goal and then…hesitated. And hesitated some more…before finally rolling the ball to his right into what seemed like empty space. However, Carlos Alberto – the fullback with skills like a forward charged in from the right flank, completely unmarked, produced a thundering finish to perhaps the greatest team goal in World Cup history.
An astonishing victory immortalized these XI along with Mário Zagallo, who became the first to win the World Cup as a player and a manager. He later led Brazil to another World Cup final in 1998, losing to France – that highlighted a certain Zinedine Zidane who scored two iconic headers in the first half.