Advertisement

WORLD CUP USA ’94 / THE FIRST ROUND : Oh, the Shame of It All: Brazil Ties Sweden : Group B: Tournament favorites still win division, with Swedes second after 1-1 draw.

Share via
TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cellular phones came at Carlos Alberto Parreira like knives.

Brazilian journalists screamed questions--machine-gun fast--at the national soccer coach, then hysterically relayed the terrible news back home into their phone receivers.

The terrible news?

Tuesday afternoon, a day that will not live in glory, Brazil clinched the Group B title in the World Cup with a 1-1 tie against Sweden before 77,217 at the Pontiac Silverdome.

Still the World Cup favorite, Brazil advanced to the second round and will next meet the United States at Palo Alto on Monday, the Fourth of July. Sweden will play the second-place finisher from Group F, still to be determined.

Advertisement

Fact: Neither Brazil nor Sweden was motivated to win. The Swedes, who took an early 1-0 lead, knew at intermission that Russia was beating up on Cameroon, a result that automatically assured Sweden’s advancement.

The Swedes admitted that they had not really tried to score in the second half.

Once Brazil tied the game in the 47th minute, both teams seemed content to play out the string.

Technically, for Brazil, a tie was as good as victory.

Emotionally, however, it was another story.

Hordes of drum-pounding Brazilians whistled derisively as their team played it safe. They booed when Parreira removed star midfielder, Rai, in the 83rd minute, seeing this as concession.

Reporters challenged Parreira afterward for his “defensive” strategy.

Parreira blamed the Swedes, who packed their defense to slow the Brazilian assault. Parreira also blamed the smaller-than-standard soccer dimensions at the Silverdome.

Parreira insisted his team had been trying.

“Did you see how many times (defender) Leonardo went forward?” Parreira shouted. “My God! We didn’t change. We did what we had to do. We finished first in our group. We didn’t change. But how can you penetrate with no space? You have to be patient, be cool.”

Brazilians are rarely that when it comes to their soccer team. With less than a dominating performance, you could sense an underlying uneasiness of Brazil now having to play the United States on its turf.

Advertisement

Expectations for Brazil are incredible. A loss to the United States would be unthinkable.

“We did not want to play the U.S. on their Independence Day,” said Mario Zagalo, the Brazilian assistant coach.

But Brazilian coaches and player were quick to note that Tuesday’s game was different.

“It was almost like a friendly, “ Parreira said. “It was a matter of who was going to finish first or second place, no more than that.”

Dunga, the Brazilian defender, assured anyone who would listen that there are no problems with the team.

“It was ugly for the players to play because there was no game to be played, because of Sweden,” he said.

The Swedes, who gladly took the tie, rarely challenged the Brazilian goal after scoring in the 24th minute.

Sweden’s goal was brilliantly executed, though.

Taking a crossing pass from Tomas Brolin on his chest, left of the goal, forward Kennet Andersson allowed the ball to bounce once before striking a shot over the head of Claudio Taffarel, the Brazilian goalkeeper.

Advertisement

Brazil spent most of the first half passing the ball back and forth, often in its own end, but came out firing after intermission.

In the 47th minute, Romario dribbled his way through three defenders and pushed a shot past goalkeeper Thomas Ravelli.

Brazil kept up the pressure, but its effort produced only occasional chances.

The Swedes, most of whom towered over the Brazilians, clogged the goal area with defenders and didn’t mind using their bodies in the process.

Andersson, who moved up to take suspended forward Martin Dahlin’s spot, said the U.S. team could learn a thing or two by watching Tuesday’s game film.

Zagalo, the Brazilian assistant, tried to put the U.S. game in perspective.

“When the American basketball team plays Brazil, we pray,” he said. “I hope you guys pray when the Brazilian soccer teams play the U.S.”

Advertisement