Warning: this article is really, really long.

Is there anything that haunts Brazilian football more than the specter of their famous 1982 team?

It’s not just that they were loaded with stars.  (They were.)  Or that their coach, Tele Santana, is credited with bringing back “flair” to the national team.  (He did.)  1982 was the apex of “football as romantic expression.”  Of style over substance.  Of the road versus results.  The very fact that the team lost is almost proof of their virtue, as if they eschewed such ignoble ambitions like “winning,” or such robotic practices like “doing whatever it takes to win” in favor of pure artistry.  As the saying goes, it’s not the destination that matters…it’s the journey.  Continue reading