Brazil 1970 vs. Brazil 2013: Scoring the Position-by-Position Battles
Brazil secured a memorable 3-0 victory over Spain last Sunday to claim the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup title, but just how good is this version of the Selecao?
We will discover the answer to that question next summer when they attempt to secure a sixth World Cup title, this time on home soil.
However, in the meantime, we can get an idea of how good the side could potentially be by comparing the current side to the great Brazilian teams of the past.
As a team unit, they are still someway off equaling even some of Brazil's more underwhelming generations, but would do better in direct player-by-player comparison.
In this case, we will compare them to the 1970 side—possibly the best Brazilian side ever. Just how well can the current side compete? Let's find out!
Felix vs. Julio Cesar
One of the most contentious choices of the eleven, the decision is between World Cup winner Felix and twice Confederations Cup winner Julio Cesar.
On this occasion, it is the former Inter Milan shot-stopper who wins the contest. With five Serie A titles, a Champions League and a Copa America title also on his CV, Julio Cesar is one of the most decorated 'keepers in the modern game.
A brilliant shot-stopper, the now QPR goalkeeper (linked with a move to Napoli according to Football Italia) has played a major role in successes for both club and country, and has worked past deficiencies in his game to succeed at the highest level.
While Fluminense icon Felix was an exceptional keeper in his own right, Julio Cesar is arguably among the top three or four of his position in the country's history.
Carlos Alberto vs. Dani Alves
When it comes to choosing a right-back for our side, the choice between Carlos Alberto Torres and Daniel Alves is a relatively simple one.
While Dani Alves may have won an impressive collection of silverware at club level, he has failed to replicate those levels consistently for his country. Carlos Alberto, on the other hand, has helped develop the full-back position into its modern form.
While it had been Nilton Santos who introduced the idea of attacking play to the full-back role, it was Carlos Alberto who really developed the position into the modern iteration of the "lateral."
A fine defender, as well as a wonderful gallivanting runner with the ball, Carlos Alberto will always be remembered for his stunning goal in the 1970 World Cup final.
Brito vs. Thiago Silva
Vasco da Gama defender Brito was a central figure of the 1970 Brazil side, having come into the team following the 1966 tournament in England. While a very good defender, though, he cannot claim to have matched the current levels of Thiago Silva.
At present, the Paris Saint-Germain centre-back is arguably the best defender in world football. With grace and elegance that only a few can claim to match, he has established himself as essential to the Brazilian setup.
In his side's recent Confederations Cup triumph, Thiago Silva's influence was essential to achieving success. Aside's from crucial interceptions and tackles, his leadership skills were an invaluable steadying influence on what was an inexperienced side.
The hope will now be that his PSG side can kick on and offer him a collection of titles that his talent deserves.
Wilson Piazza vs. David Luiz
The battle for the second centre-back slot is a bit unfair on Chelsea defender David Luiz, who is yet to see his career fully develop. However, for the moment, Wilson Piazza is the obvious choice to partner Thiago Silva.
The former Cruzeiro defender is a Brazilian national champion, a Copa Libertadores winner and a 10-time winner of the Mineiro state championship. Indeed, there are few Brazilian defenders who can claim to match his record of success.
Also capable of playing a defensive midfield role, Piazza was known for his stunning ability to dispossess opponents, and is known for his terrific marking performed on Pelé at club level.
David Luiz still has several years to prove himself with club and country, but will have to go some way to displace Piazza from this selection. His potential, though, is undoubted.
Everaldo vs. Marcelo
Another contentious call sees 2013 left-back Marcelo fill another space in our side, ahead of 1970 full-back Everaldo.
It is a difficult call to make, as Everaldo holds an almost mythical place in the Brazilian football psyche—having died young in a car crash in 1974.
However, of the pair, Marcelo is the better all-around player, offering far more of an attacking threat than the Grêmio icon. With Carlos Alberto pushing forward regularly, Everaldo's job was to add more defensive stability on the left side of the defensive unit.
Marcelo has some way to go before he reaches the level of a Roberto Carlos or Junior, but he is already a fine full-back in his own right.
Clodoaldo vs. Luiz Gustavo
When it comes to the choice of defensive midfielder for our side, there is no doubting that Clodoaldo from the 1970 side would be chosen over Luiz Gustavo.
Technically excellent and a wonderful distributor of the ball, Clodoaldo is regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders in Brazil's history. With a wonderful track record of success for both Brazil and club side Santos, his reputation is more than justified.
Luiz Gustavo, for all his positives, is arguably not even the best in his position at the current time—with a fit Sandro possibly a more complete player. He is a very good player, but not a great.
With the uncertainty of Luiz Gustavo's standing in his own era, he was never going to challenge Clodoaldo. Retain his place for a few years, while earning success, and there may be reason to reassess.
Gerson vs. Oscar
As it becomes more difficult to match up positions in the two sides' formations in a like-for-like manner, we are forced to find closest possible equivalents for each player. For creative hub of the 1970 side Gerson, that means Chelsea No. 10 Oscar.
It is a matchup that is a touch unfair on 21-year-old Oscar, who is very much in the early stages of what threatens to be an outstanding career. However, he will have to achieve much to match his illustrious predecessor.
Gerson's performances at the 1970 competition are remembered as some of the best ever by a midfielder in tournament play, with his intelligence and range of passing a key component of the Brazilian attack.
With a four-man forward line ahead of him, he was the key to unlocking opposition defences—a job he excelled at throughout a club career that saw him star at Flamengo, Botafogo and Sao Paulo in particular.
Rivellino vs. Paulinho
Perhaps the worst matched of the players in the two formations, our next comparison sees two former icons of Corinthians come head-to-head in attacking midfielder Rivellino and modern-day box-to-box midfielder Paulinho.
Once more, there is a case to be made that new Tottenham Hotspur star Paulinho still has the majority of his career ahead of him. However, at present, there is simply no comparison between the two players.
One of Brazil's most naturally talented players, Rivellino brought his futsal developed style into the 11-man game, excelling from a wide-left position in Brazil's attacking setup.
The "King of the Parque", referring to Corinthians' Parque São Jorge home, Rivellino played an important role in Brazil's 1970 success, scoring three times en-route to the World Cup title.
Jairzinho vs. Hulk
The right wing position offers another victory for the 1970 side, as Jairzinho comfortably sees off the challenge of Hulk to take his place in our side.
Jairzinho was Brazil's undoubted star of the 1970 competition, scoring a goal in all seven matches to help his side to a famous victory. He was nicknamed the "World Cup Hurricane" for his success.
Hulk, meanwhile, is yet to fully justify his selection in the 2013 iteration of the Brazil national team, with many advocating the inclusion of young stars Lucas Moura and Bernard in his stead.
The comparison with Jairzinho, one of the best ever players in the role, therefore does Hulk little favours.
What is clear, though, is that Botafogo icon Jairzinho would beat off nearly any competition for a place, irrespective of Hulk's performances for his country.
With pace, trickery and wonderful finishing, he is the prototype for the inside forward role.
Tostão vs. Neymar
The decision to pick Neymar over Tostao in the left-sided attacking position will be a contentious one, and is largely based upon Neymar's performances at the Confederations Cup.
Tostão was an excellent player, who is remembered as one of the biggest idols in Cruzeiro's history, but was sadly forced to retire from football at the age of 26.
Neymar, though, will be expected to lead his country to success in the years to come, with the new Barcelona star the biggest talent the country has produced since Ronaldinho.
He has begun to silence his doubters with his magnificent recent displays, but will hope to perform even better with club and country over the coming year to fully prove his potential brilliance.
It says much of his quality that he is the only 2013 attacking player to break into our combined selection.
Pele vs. Fred
While Pelé was not a typical centre-forward, he was the closest in the 1970 side to playing as a striker and thus is matched up against Fred from the 2013 side. It is a straightforward decision.
While Fred is a very good forward, he is far from a modern great. Pelé, meanwhile, is arguably the best player of all-time, and a three-time World Cup winner.
There is little to be said about "O Rei" that hasn't already been repeated over and over again for the past forty years, but he is quite possibly the most complete attacking player ever to have played.
A brilliant header, a skilled dribbler, an intelligent passer and an accurate finisher, Pelé was everything that you could wish for in a No. 10. While operating further up the pitch in 1970, he was still far more of a creative figure than an out-and-out No. 9.
The Santos icon's inclusion takes the balance to 7-4 in favour of the 1970 team, which is quite generous on their modern-day equivalents.
There is, undoubtedly, much justification behind their status as one of the best sides ever.