2010 FIFA World Cup: Brazil’s Opening World Cup Games, 1970-2010
Brazil started its 2010 World Cup campaign with a 2-1 victory over North Korea in Group G.
The only team to appear in every World Cup, Brazil has also won the tournament a record five times.
Brazil’s opening World Cup matches are often an indication of how the team will fare in the rest of the tournament.
We look back at each of Brazil’s opening World Cup matches since 1970.
1970: 4-1 vs. Czechoslovakia
The glorious Brazil team of 1970 started its World Cup campaign in style with a 4-1 thumping of Czechoslovakia.
After falling behind to the Eastern European side, Brazil recovered with goals from Rivelino, Pelé and two from Jairzinho.
However, the game is probably best remembered for an audacious attempt on goal by Pelé, who spotted that the Czech goalkeeper was off his line and attempted to lob him from 60 meters. His effort missed by inches.
Brazil went on to win the World Cup, repeating its opening match scoreline in the final against Italy.
1974: 0-0 vs. Yugoslavia
The defending champions opened the 1974 World Cup in West Germany with a 0-0 draw against a strong Yugoslavia team.
It was the World Cup’s third scoreless opening match in succession.
Brazil qualified for the second round in second place behind Yugoslavia, where Mario Zagallo’s men battled with the highly rated Dutch team for a place in the final.
In the deciding group game, Brazil lost 2-0 to the eventual runners-up.
1978: 1-1 vs. Sweden
Brazil’s opening match at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina featured one of most controversial refereeing decisions in World Cup history.
Drawing 1-1 with Sweden, Brazil won a corner in injury time and the resulting cross was headed home by Zico.
However the goal was disallowed by the Welsh referee Clive Thomas who had blown the full time whistle as the ball was in the air.
Brazil struggled in its remaining games but qualified from its group in second place behind Austria.
Coach Claudio Coutinho’s team was eliminated in the second round group stage, finishing second to eventual winners Argentina.
1982: 2-1 vs. Soviet Union
The 1982 Brazil team is regarded as one of the greatest World Cup sides to not actually win the tournament.
Coach Tele Santana’s team opened its campaign in Spain against the Soviet Union and was 1-0 behind at half-time.
However, Brazil rallied in the second half and won an exciting game with two late goals from Socrates and Eder.
Despite thrilling the world with exhilarating football, Brazil was eliminated in the second round group stage by eventual champions Italy.
1986: 1-0 vs. Spain
After the excitement of 1982, much was expected of Brazil in 1986.
However, Brazil’s World Cup campaign in Mexico got to a slow start with a lucky 1-0 win against Spain.
With the score at 0-0, Brazil needed help from the referee who didn’t see that Spanish midfielder Michel’s shot had crossed the goal line.
Tele Santana’s team eventually won the match with a Socrates goal in the second half.
Brazil reached the quarterfinals where it lost a penalty shootout to France.
1990: 2-1 vs. Sweden
Brazil began the 1990 Italy World Cup with a fine 2-1 win over Sweden, featuring two goals from veteran striker Careca.
Yet, despite winning its group with maximum points, the 1990 team is regarded as one of Brazil’s worst in modern times.
Sebastiao Lazaroni’s team could only manage 1-0 victories over minnows Costa Rica and Scotland and Brazil was eliminated in the second round by Argentina.
1994: 2-0 vs. Russia
Expectations were not high in Brazil ahead of the 1994 World Cup. The team had struggled in qualifying and many felt the style imposed by coach Carlos Alberto Parreira was too defensive.
The World Cup campaign got off to a nervous, if successful, start with a 2-0 win against Russia. The goals came from striker Romario and a Rai penalty.
Despite the fears of its fans, Brazil went on to win the World Cup beating Italy in the first-ever final to be decided by a penalty shootout.
The captain who lifted the trophy in 1994 was current Brazil coach, Dunga.
1998: 2-1 vs. Scotland
As world champions, Brazil opened the 1998 tournament in France with a 2-1 win over Scotland.
Mario Zagallo’s team scored early with a header from Cesar Sampaio.
The defender was involved in Scotland’s equalizer late in the first half, when he conceded a penalty, which John Collins scored.
Brazil pressed for a winner but needed a bit of luck to finally score, when Tommy Boyd put the ball into his own net.
Brazil went on to reach the final where it lost 3-0 to the host nation France.
2002: 2-1 vs. Turkey
Brazil’s 2002 campaign got off to a shocking start when it went behind to Turkey on the stroke of halftime.
Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari sent his men out with more purpose in the second half and Brazil was soon level thanks to Ronaldo.
The team struggled to find a winner until the referee awarded Brazil a penalty after Alpay brought down Luizao in the 85th minute.
Replays showed that the foul actually took place outside the box, but Rivaldo went on to convert the spot kick.
The game was also notable for a late incident when Rivaldo pretended to be hit in the head after Turkey’s Hakan Unsal kicked the ball at him.
Brazil went on to win the 2002 World Cup, beating Turkey a second time when the two teams met again in the semifinal.
2006: 1-0 vs. Croatia
Brazil were world champions at the start of the 2006 World Cup and favorites to retain the title in Germany.
The famous magic square of attackers as developed by coach Carlos Alberto Parreira featured the talents of Kaka, Ronaldinho, Adriano and Ronaldo.
Brazil strolled to victory in its opening game against a defensive Croatia, thanks to a Kaka goal.
However the game highlighted a lack of focus in Brazil’s players, particularly Ronaldo who was substituted after 70 minutes of disinterested play.
Brazil’s disappointing form continued and the team was eventually eliminated from the tournament in the quarterfinals.
2010: 2-1 vs. North Korea
Brazil’s attempt to win the 2010 World Cup didn’t start with the easy encounter some people anticipated.
After being frustrated by a well organised North Korea in the first half, Brazil finally opened the scoring after 55 minutes when Maicon’s fierce cross-shot squeezed in at the near post.
North Korea’s resistance was finally ended 15 minutes later when Robinho slid a perfect pass behind the defense for Elano to finish.
Brazil conceded a late goal to Ji Yun-nam but the South American team held out to win 2-1.
Brazil fans will hope this relatively comfortable victory will be like the 1994 opening game victory over Russia and lead to Dunga getting his hands on the World Cup trophy once more.