Brazil v Spain: 1986 Revisited
With Brazil and Spain clashing at the Maracana in tomorrow night's big match, I've dipped into my back catalogue to check out a previous meeting between the nations. Back in the summer of 1986, Rangers fans were looking forward to new boss Graeme Souness getting his feet under the table at Ibrox. Hardly a day passed without one big name or another being tipped to be Ibrox-bound - Rummenigge, Falcao, Rush, Shilton and Lineker were all supposedly on our manager's shopping list - but first he was committed to skippering Scotland in the World Cup in Mexico where the Confederations Cup finalists Spain last met in a competitive fixture. Guadalajara has always been Brazil's spiritual home in Mexico. In 1970 they played all three group games, their quarter-final and semi-final at the Jalisco Stadium before heading to Mexico City for their memorable World Cup Final destruction of Italy. And when grouped alongside Spain, Algeria and Northern Ireland for the 1986 competition it was no surprise to find the Brazilians again based in the city, with their campaign opening against the Spaniards. Both were clear favourites to qualify from Group D, which they duly did, and it was widely speculated that the fixture schedule had done Spain a big favour in pairing them with Brazil in the first game, before they had a chance to build up anything resembling a head of steam. After all, this Spanish team had been beaten finalists in Euro84 in France, being rather unlucky to lose 2-0 to the all-conquering host nation in the final. And while Brazil still had all the star names who had shone in the 1982 World Cup in Spain, they were all four years older, four years slower, said to be four years past their sell-by date. Junior, Socrates, Falcao and Zico were still world-renowned stars and were in the squad but Spain had established players like Camacho, Victor, Macedo and Julio Alberto in their side, with young guns Julio Salinas and Butragueno ready to make the big breakthrough. In many ways 1986 offered up a classic role reversal from the present situation, with Brazil being the established power while the Spanish were a promising 'work in progress'. Just 24 hours after the tournament had opened with a 1-1 draw between holders Italy and Bulgaria, Group D kicked off in Guadalajara and I remember cutting my Sunday afternoon bevvy session short to get home in time for Brazil v Spain. The first talking point was that ITV had lost the sound-link to the Jalisco Stadium so, while the picture and the background noise from the crowd came through loud and clear, commentary team Peter Brackley and Ron Atkinson were chuntering away into their microphones but nobody in the UK heard a single word. It was left to Brain Moore and Brian Clough, both no doubt running a critical eye over the Confederations Cup from that great commentary box in the sky, to talk viewers through the action from the TV studio in London. Brian Moore stressed that it was not ITV's problem, pointing out that nowhere in the world was getting sound from the stadium, adding the think-yourself-lucky line that in Brazil they were not even receiving television pictures. I'll bet that went down well in Rio!!! The game kicked off at 12.00 noon local time so the oppressive heat which had such an effect on the Spain v Italy game on Thursday night was a major factor in Guadalajara. Both teams started out at a sedate pace, feeling each other out, rather than going for the jugular. Long range free-kicks from Julio Cesar, Socrates (twice) and Junior whistled wide of the Spanish goal, while at the other end Brazil's Art Garfunkel lookalike goalkeeper Carlos had to be quick off his line to thwart Butragueno. Fully 37 minutes had elapsed before we saw a shot on target. Brazilian midfield man Elzo fired in a 25-yarder which forced a good save from Zubizarreta and just before half-time Careca got on to the end of a Junior free-kick but sent his header wide of the target. The game picked up after the interval and controversy erupted in the 52nd minute when a 20-yard shot from Macedo crashed off the underside of the Brazilian crossbar and was scrambled away. Television footage clearly showed the ball to have crossed the line but Australian referee Chris Bambridge - a native of Kettering who, we were told, once trained with Ron Atkinson! - waved play on. All of which was the perfect cue for the TV experts to prattle on about the similarity between this incident and England's third goal in the 1966 World Cup Final when, in truth, the only similarity was that the referee got it wrong on both occasions. Thankfully, common sense has prevailed and there will be no such controversy in the Confederations Cup. Goal-line technology has been introduced for the first time but it has yet to be tested. It would be good to see the system applied before the competition ends on Sunday night. The scare got a response from Brazil. Socrates climbed to turn a Junior corner into the net but, three weeks before Maradona had discovered the 'hand of God', the goal was disallowed for handling. Chants of 'Zico...Zico...' echoed all around the ground as the fans urged coach Tele Santana to get the legend off the subs' bench but their concerns turned to cheers when Socrates broke the deadlock in the 61st minute. Junior fed Careca in the box, he turned and crashed a powerful shot off the underside of the crossbar and Socrates followed up to head into the gaping net from no more than two yards. Tele Santana resisted the calls to push Zico into the fray. Muller was sent on and quickly caught the eye, forcing Zubizarreta to dive to turn a shot round the post, then sending a low drive just wide of goal. Brazil had now taken a tight grip on the game. Careca came close and Alemao shot over the top as it began to look like Spain, having been robbed of a perfectly good goal, had resigned themselves to accepting a 1-0 defeat. With Northern Ireland and Algeria still to play, their focus switched to taking maximum points from those games to stay in the competition. The Spaniards did mount a late flurry, with a Michel shot being smothered by Carlos and the keeper making a good save from a Camacho header, but they were always in danger of being caught on the break, with Muller getting in behind the defence but firing his shot across the face of the goal. So Socrates' goal gave Brazil a 1-0 win, they and Spain progressed in the competition but both fell at the quarter-final stage, going out on penalties, Brazil to France and Spain to the 1986 surprise packages Belgium. For all you fellow anoraks out there, both teams lined up in a 4-4-2 formation as follows: BRAZIL: Carlos; Edson, Julio Cesar, Edinho, Branco; Elzo, Junior, Socrates, Alemao; Casagrande, Careca. Subs: Muller (for Casagrande 65 mins), Falcao (for Junior 78). SPAIN: Zubizarreta; Tomas, Goicoechea, Maceda, Camacho; Michel, Victor, Francisco, Julio Alberto; Julio Salinas, Butragueno. Sub: Senor (for Francisco 81 mins). One final point about the 1986 encounter between the Confederations Cup Finalists. I hope tomorrow night's game is a helluva lot better. Fingers crossed.
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