Magical moment of 1970 recalled as soccer giants meet in quarterfinal


TSUNA, Japan, AP

Rivaldo crosses from the right, Ronaldo heads powerfully downward and David Seaman dives full length across goal to somehow push the ball over the crossbar.

It can’t happen again, can it?

Brazil meets England in the World Cup quarterfinal on Friday and already thoughts are going back 32 years to one of the greatest moments in the competition’s history.

That time it was Jairzinho who crossed, Pele who headed down and Gordon Banks who flew across goal to make the astonishing save.

Jairzinho, set up by Pele, went on to score the only goal of the first round group game in Guadalajara, Mexico. Although both teams qualified for the quarterfinals, England lost to Germany while Brazil went on to win its third title by outplaying Italy 4-1 in a one-sided final.

That was probably the greatest Brazilian team ever and, while the current lineup isn’t so strong, it has individual stars capable of taking the team all the way to a fifth title.

Like that game in 1970, Friday’s meeting in Shizuoka will be a matchup of a standout Brazilian strikeforce and a rock solid English defense.

Brazil has scored 13 goals so far and England has gone three games without conceding one.

Then it was Pele, Tostao and Jairzinho, backed up by Rivelino. Now it’s Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho. Back then, England had Bobby Moore in defense and now it has Rio Ferdinand, who is emerging as one of the best central defenders in world soccer.

Pele, who played in four World Cups and won three titles, said that Friday’s matchup would be worthy of the final.

“Before the World Cup neither Brazil nor England were favorites to win the tournament, but it now looks like a real possibility that one of them will be in the final,” he said.

“It is dangerous to plan too far ahead. Nobody expected to see France and Argentina both knocked out in the final round. But I believe Brazil and England will be renewing one the World Cup’s great rivalries in the quarterfinals.

“Brazil have won the World Cup four times, England once. Brazil are the greatest nation in World Cup history, England the home of football. This game would be worthy of the final itself.”

Mario Zagallo, who had World Cup success with Brazil both as a player and a coach, said that playing against England would be a good omen for Brazil.

Brazilian star Roberto Carlos was on the team trounced 3-0 by France in the final four years ago and has plenty to prove after that poor performance.

“The World Cup is about winning the final,” he said. “So far the tournament has only just started.”

England has a poor record against Brazil, winning just three times in 20 meetings and losing nine. In three World Cup meetings, Brazil has won twice (1-0 and 3-1) and tied once (0-0).

Team captain David Beckham has the ability to score with the same bending free kicks that used to be the style of Rivelino, Garrincha and Zico while Michael Owen has the Pele and Ronaldo-style ability to run at defenders, dribble round them and score.