Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

History Is in Making for Italy, Brazil

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

History Is in Making for Italy, Brazil

Article excerpt

The Dallas Cowboys may be America's Team, but Brazil is the world's team.

Or so it would seem among a fair portion of those earthlings who eat, breath and live for soccer.

And that's a rather substantial head count. More than 2 billion people - a third of the planet's population - are expected to join the TV couch potato brigade Sunday when Brazil takes on Italy in the 15th World Cup final.

Another 90,000 plus will be dancing or crying in the aisles of the Rose Bowl, depending on the fortunes of the Blue (Italy) or the Yellow (Brazil). Kickoff is 2:35 p.m. (St. Louis time).

Both teams are going for an unprecedented fourth Cup; Italy won in 1934, 1938 and 1982 and Brazil in 1958, 1962 and 1970.

But the Brazilians are the betting and sentimental favorites because of their passion for putting on a show. They never are satisfied with merely winning; they feel a moral responsibility to entertain and amaze with feats of feet.

Ever since their last World Cup title in 1970, when they beat Italy 4-1 in Mexico City, the Brazilians have been the world's standard-bearers for "beautiful soccer." In an era of cautious, defensive soccer, fans love Brazil's attack-at-all-cost mentality.

Over the last two decades, more and more teams have found it easier to play not to lose. They do this by emphasizing the physical side of the game, destroying the opponents' offense. Brazil, though, remains a champion of creativity and skill.

Even the Brazilians have taken heat from their fans, who seem to think that any emphasis on defense is misdirected. Fans constantly compare this Brazil team to their last world champs, the Pele-led 1970 team. In most eyes, they don't measure up.

Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira is second-guessed by everybody from the president of Brazil all the way down to his own mother. He says to coach the Brazilian team is "a death sentence."

That death sentence could be commuted with one more victory Sunday, but not before Parreira finishes serving out some hard time with the Brazilian press.

They've convicted him of abetting a weaker opponent. Twice Brazil has been held to 1-0 victories - by the United States in the second round and by Sweden in the semifinals.

Never mind that Brazil has attacked relentlessly against packed-in defenses, racking up a big advantage in shots (104-42), if not goals (11-3).

"What can we do?" said Parreira, mindful of his country's reputation as an offensive juggernaut. "The only team to play against Brazil was Holland (a 3-2 win in the quarterfinals). …

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