The 15 Greatest Brazil World Cup Moments

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor ISeptember 25, 2013

The 15 Greatest Brazil World Cup Moments

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    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    Five-time world champions Brazil hold a special place in the heart of generations of football fans worldwide.

    For most supporters who remember the pre-Champions League era, the World Cup was the undisputed pinnacle of football. Even now, the tournament still holds a somewhat mythical status within the game.

    It has been the stage on which greatness is made, and over the course of over half a century, Brazilians have been at the forefront of creating history at the event.

    But which moments have proved to be their greatest at the competition? Let's take a look.

15. Josimar Rocket Lights Up 1986 World Cup

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    The 1986 World Cup may not be a tournament that Brazilians remember too fondly, with one of their weakest squads of recent times attending.

    It is, though, not entirely as unforgettable a competition as many would like, and that is mainly thanks to the sensational strike of right-back Josimar in the Selecao's opening fixture.

    His stunning lash into the top corner of the Irish net is one of the most replayed goals in World Cup history and firmly embedded Josimar's name in the minds of football fans across the world.

14. Nelinho Earns a Third Place Finish, 1978

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    Another World Cup, another memorable moment provided by a right-back—this time, Nelinho in a third-place playoff victory over Italy in 1978.

    Brazil were actually unbeaten at the tournament, but it lost out on a place in the final to winners Argentina after losing out as part of the second group stage system.

    After an hour of the third-place game, it appeared as though Brazil was going to leave the tournament empty-handed. Nelinho's stunning strike drew them level, however, before Dirceu was able to complete the comeback.

    Given its importance in the game, Brazil's undefeated record and the quality of the strike, it is undoubtedly a great Brazilian World Cup moment.

13. Marta Stuns the US, 2007 (Womens)

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    Perhaps the greatest goal in the history of the Women's World Cup, Marta helped Brazil secure a place in the final of the 2007 tournament with a moment of quality any male player would have been proud of.

    Brazil may have failed in their quest to win the tournament, losing to Germany in the final, but Marta's rise to the top of the women's game was complete—finishing the competition as both the best player and the top goalscorer.

    A five-time World Player of the Year, Marta's place at the top of the pantheon of women's football is assured, and it was in this performance, in 2007, that she really left her mark on the World Cup stage.

12. The Cradle-Rockers, 1994

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    There was little exceptional about Bebeto's goal to put Brazil up 2-0 against the Netherlands in the quarterfinal of the 1994 World Cup, but it is a goal that has become one of the most recognisable in World Cup history.

    Brazil would go on to win the competition in the US—a tournament that brought football to a greater audience than any previous tournament.

    The image of Brazil's three players—Bebeto, Romario and Mazinho—wheeling away to commemorate the birth of the former's son was the memory that stuck in the minds of fans across the globe.

    That child, Matheus, is now a professional footballer and Brazil Under-20 international himself, adding to the mystique of one of sport's most famous celebrations.

11. Ronaldinho Lobs Seaman, 2002

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    While Rivaldo's earlier equalising goal may have been the better of the two, it is Ronaldinho's lobbed free-kick effort against England in the 2002 quarterfinal that played a key role in the country's overall success.

    Intentional or not, the future World Player of the Year scored a goal out of nothing to see his side through to the semifinals, overcoming one of the better England sides of the modern era.

    It was the one match of the tournament where star striker Ronaldo had failed to come good for the Selecao, and in his stead, Ronaldinho came up with the one moment that separated the two sides.

    It was in 2002 that Ronaldinho offered his best showing at a World Cup, which is a real shame considering the performance levels he reached over the following years whilst at Barcelona.

10. Jairzinho Helps Down Reigning Champions England, 1970

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    A much-anticipated encounter at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico brought Brazil face-to-face with reigning champions England in a game that would only be settled by a moment of brilliance.

    That was exactly what Brazil's World Champions-to-be produced to claim a 1-0 Group Stage victory with the side's key attacking threats—Tostao, Pele and Jairzinho—all involved.

    It would be a combination goal that the side would better later in the tournament, but it remains one of the best goals scored by what was a tremendous Selecao squad.

    Tostao's determination and trickery, Pele's vision and Jairzinho's powerful finishing all combined to create a sumptuous goal worthy of defeating champions.

9. Leonidas Da Silva, 1938

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    Often attributed with the creation of the overhead kick, Leonidas holds the distinction of having scored in every World Cup match he played—although the onset of war sadly limited him to two tournaments.

    In 1938, the "Black Diamond" was the outstanding player of the tournament, scoring seven times to help Brazil to a third-placed finish.

    Indeed, he had been rested for Brazil's only defeat at the competition, when they lost to Italy in the semifinals.

    Leonidas' tournament would inspire many of those who would go on to win Brazil a first world title 14 years later. He was, undoubtedly, one of the nation's first megastars.

8. Garrincha Free-Kick, 1966

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    The magnificent talent that was Garrincha was a fading force by the time of the 1966 World Cup in England, but he still offered one final moment of class to sign out on a high.

    Both he and Pele would score against Bulgaria in Brazil's opening group game in a match that would prove to be their final joint outing for the Selecao—who never lost with both in the side.

    Garrincha would appear once more, in a 3-1 defeat to Hungary that would mark his first loss at international level in his 50th appearance. His career, and sadly, his life were already heading towards a tragic ending.

    He did, though, leave the world with one final moment of brilliance.

7. Ronaldo Breaks World Cup Scoring Records, 2006

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    The 2006 competition would provide few real highlights for Brazil, but it did offer up the opportunity for striker Ronaldo to become the highest scorer in World Cup history.

    Struggling for fitness, Ronaldo began the tournament with two goalless outings. Against Japan in the final Group Stage game, though, he grabbed the two goals he needed to equal Gerd Muller's record of 14 World Cup goals before claiming the outright record in a Round of 16 game against Ghana.

    After years of injury problems that had been broken up by his stunning success at the 2002 World Cup, it was a deserved success for one of the truly great players of the modern era.

6. Pele's Feint vs. Uruguay, 1970

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    The greatest World Cup goal that never was? Pele's feint to round the Uruguayan goalkeeper in the semifinal of the 1970 World Cup has gone down in history regardless, having been the first time the trick was exhibited in a televised game.

    Although Pele was somewhat overshadowed by teammate Jairzinho in 1970, the move was an indication of just what he was still capable of—with incredible speed of thought one of his greatest attributes.

    Brazil would go on to win the competition, and Pele would score in the final. It's just a shame his moment of brilliant innovation would go unrewarded.

5. Taffarel and Roberto Baggio Help Win 1994 World Cup

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    Brazil's goalkeeper throughout most of the 1990s was Parma and Galatasaray icon Claudio Taffarel—a man known for his brilliance in saving penalties.

    His finest hour may have come against the Netherlands in France '98, but his save from Daniele Massaro in the 1994 final penalty shootout was undoubtedly his most important contribution in a Brazil shirt.

    As fate would have it, though, it would be the misses of two Italian icons in Franco Baresi and Roberto Baggio which helped seal a fourth world title for Brazil.

    Taffarel, though, is still very much idolised for his efforts in the success.

4. Eder's Volley vs. USSR, 1982

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    The 1982 side are often idolised on a par with any of Brazil's World Cup winning sides outside of their homeland, where their inability to achieve success automatically sees them marked down.

    They were a sensational side, however, with the likes of Zico, Socrates and Junior—known as some of the finest players of their generation—all somewhere near their peak.

    It was one of the less heralded names, Eder, who perhaps provided the side's best individual moment of the tournament with this stunning flick and volley against USSR.

    Rather than rank so highly for the goal alone, this ranking is based on Brazil's showing in 1982 as a whole—a great moment in the history of the Selecao.

3. Ronaldo Silences His Demons, 2002 Final

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    The 1998 World Cup final was supposed to be the night where the world's best player, Ronaldo, came to the fore to seal a fifth world title for his side.

    Instead, following a remarkable series of events, in which he reportedly suffered a seizure just hours before kick-off, it was Zinedine Zidane who took the honours for his side.

    Ronaldo's next four years saw him consistently sidelined with knee problems, and his attendance at the 2002 World Cup was highly doubtful.

    Brazil, though, ensured that he got fit for the tournament, and the prodigious forward finally had his defining moment, scoring twice against Germany in the final to seal World Cup glory.

2. Pele Goal vs. Sweden, 1958

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    Just 17 years old at the time of the 1958 tournament, Brazil forward Pele scored one of his greatest goals in a 5-2 final victory over Sweden to send his country to their first World Cup title.

    Chesting a crossed ball down, he flicked the ball over the approaching defender before volleying low under the keeper in a demonstration of his marvelous footballing ability.

    Given his age and achievements, it was the 1958 tournament that propelled Pele to the forefront of the public imagination worldwide. He was heralded as football's leading light, having fired Brazil to becoming the first country to win the competition outside of their own continent.

    He would win two more titles over the next 12 years, but it was his display in 1958 that really marked Pele down as one of football's greatest players in World Cup competition.

1. Carlos Alberto's Goal vs. Italy, 1970 WC Final

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    The crowning moment of Brazil's third World Cup success is Carlos Alberto's goal in the closing minutes of the 1970 World Cup final. To this day, it is remembered as one of football's great attacking moves ever.

    From the dancing feet of Clodoaldo, the direct running of Jairzinho and the intelligence of Pele to the thundering drive of Carlos Alberto, it is a goal that has hugely impressive individual components.

    Add in the context of the match and the phenomenal nature of that Brazil side, and it is justifiably seen as perhaps the greatest World Cup goal.

    It is the iconic image of Brazilian football for many worldwide.


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