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Beckenbauer and Charlton: 1970 Brazil Team Still The Best

Written by Sebastien on 13 March 2013. Posted in World Cup Blog

It is an iconic World Cup moment. The split second in which Pelé, having received the ball on the edge of the penalty area, pauses, waiting for the right instant to release a nonchalant pass to an on-rushing team mate not yet visible to the television audience. A moment later the pass is delivered and Carlos Alberto, careering onto the scene, meets it flush, adding one last flourish to a tournament illuminated by Brazilian excellence.

Brazil’s 1970 World Cup winning side were undoubtedly one of the finest ever to grace the tournament. Graceful, inventive, joyous, their play left a generation spellbound; the bright, basic tones of the nascent colour broadcast technology left the images of their best moments forever emblazoned on the retinas of those who witnessed them in action.

The 1970 side set the gold standard that future generations have failed to match. The 1982 side came the closest, delighting with the intricate midfield interchanges of Cerezo, Falcao, Socrates and Zico, but did not enjoy the same success as their forebears, suffering elimination at the second group stage. In the more physically intensive modern game it seems unlikely we will ever see a Brazilian team reach the same aesthetic heights.

In recent years, the Spanish national team have been the dominant force in world football, winning the last World Cup in South Africa and each of the last two European championships. Playing in a style heavily influenced by the successful Barcelona sides of the same period, with the midfield core of Sergio Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta consistent across both sides, they have staked their own claim for an exulted place in the pantheon.

Spanish national team coach Vicente Del Bosque was recently in Rio de Janeiro for an awards ceremony, and was joined at a press conference by two legends of the game: Franz Beckenbauer, a World Cup winner as a player and coach with Germany, and Bobby Charlton, part of England’s 1966 World Cup winning side. They were both of the opinion that Brazil’s 1970 side is still the standard bearer.

“I remember the Brazil of 1970 well,” Beckenbauer explained. “Unfortunately, we lost to them. That team was the best of all time in my opinion. They had Pelé, Jairzinho, Tostão, Carlos Alberto. I’m sorry Vicente, but I grew up in a special generation and my heroes are Pelé, Bobby Charlton, all these great players.”

Charlton’s England also suffered defeat to Brazil in 1970, in a group stage match that is still fondly remembered by all involved. “When you played against Brazil you had to work very hard,” Charlton recounted. “They had unbelievable control and Pelé was an impressive player. I think any young person, wherever he plays, is always judged against the Brazilian way of playing. That is always the parameter.

“Hundreds of thousand of people want to see a good game, not boring football. Brazil were always the ones who gave that to the public. There are teams who have played well, like Barcelona, but the Brazilian team of 1970 is the most amazing I’ve ever seen.”

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