The first game between Brazil and Uruguay was held in Buenos Aires on 12 July 1916, Los Charrúas running out 2-1 winners. Over the course of the ensuing 97 years there have been some wonderful encounters in this classic continental derby, including one of the most memorable of all time: the legendary FIFA World Cup™ final round match of 16 July 1950.
With the South American powerhouses set to clash once again Wednesday in the semi-final of the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013, this is the perfect opportunity to look back on some of the most memorable fixtures between the two sides, beginning with the Maracanazo (roughly translated as the Maracana KO).
- 1950: Brazil 1-2 Uruguay – FIFA World Cup final round
If the theory that every great champion has to undergo a painful defeat on the road to glory is true, then there is no better example than this game. A Seleção may have gone on to become synonymous with FIFA World Cup success, but in 1950 they suffered a shock final game defeat to Uruguay in front of an estimated 200,000 fans crammed into the Maracana Stadium. And although Brazil took the lead, A Celeste fought back for a stunning 2-1 win to lift the trophy for the second time. The Maracanazo would immortalise Uruguayans Alcides Ghiggia and Obdulio Varela, not to mention Brazilian goalkeeper Barbosa (one of those blamed for the defeat) and even the recently opened stadium itself. “I´d never seen a people as distraught as the Brazilians were after that defeat,” said Ghiggia, who is also quoted as having said: “Down through its history, only three people have managed to silence the Maracana: the Pope, Frank Sinatra and me.” For more details on this game click on the link in the column on the right entitled “Deafened by the silence”.
- 1970: Brazil 3-1 Uruguay – FIFA World Cup semi-final
Revenge was a long time in coming for the Brazilians. Twenty years later the two sides faced off again in Guadalajara, Mexico, this time at the semi-final stage of the world's greatest tournament. Once again, the vast majority of the fans were behind Brazil, but this time events on the field did not begin as planned. A Celeste took the lead through Luis Cubilla after 19 minutes, but Brazil stuck with their slick passing game and were ultimately rewarded with a place in the Final after goals from Clodoaldo, Jairzinho and Rivelino. The game is perhaps best remembered for Pele's audacity when, without even making contact with the ball, he rounded Uruguay keeper Ladislao Mazurkiewicz on the edge of the penalty area. His subsequent shot just missed the target, but it did not matter on the day, as the Brazilians were not about to be silenced again.
- 1976: Brazil 2-1 Uruguay – Friendly
This encounter was friendly only in name. The second leg of the Atlantic Cup at the Maracana (the first having been played in Montevideo) saw the concept of rivalry taken to the extreme. When a young Zico set off on a mazy run upfield, leaving a trail of opponents in his wake, Celeste defender Sergio Ramirez decided he had to be stopped, regardless of the consequences. His bone-crunching tackle triggered a full-scale brawl, illustrating just how intense games between these two countries can be.
- 1993: Brazil 2-0 Uruguay – FIFA World Cup qualifier
This became to be unofficially known as “Romario´s game”, with the Barcelona goal machine producing an unforgettable performance to decide the outcome practically single-handed. Romario had been setting Europe alight that year, but had been absent from A Seleção due to a series of run-ins with the coaching staff. Recalled for the decisive qualifier against Uruguay at the Maracana for a place at the 1994 FIFA World Cup USA, the clinical front man never doubted his own ability. “I knew I was going to pull something special out of the bag in that game. I realised in the first few minutes that I was going to sew things up,” said the diminutive striker, who scored both goals in a display of extraordinary skill and acceleration. “I said I´d be man-of-the match and would book Brazil´s place at the World Cup.” And so it turned out.
- 1995: Uruguay 1-1 Brazil (5-3 on penalties) – Copa America Final
This was Uruguay´s last major win against their rivals, in the final of the South American tournament, and better still at home in Montevideo´s Estadio Centenario. Brazil had knocked out Argentina after a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-finals, and then USA, who were making a rare guest appearance that year, in the semi-final. Uruguay, meanwhile, had disposed of Bolivia and Colombia, two teams who were extremely hard to beat at the time. The third final between the two neighbours was another bruising affair, and saw Enzo Francescoli dislocate his shoulder and play out the game in excruciating pain. Target man Tulio opened the scoring for the Brazilians, but midfielder Pablo Bengoechea equalised 21 minutes later. The match went to penalties, and it was Tulio who had his kick saved, while the Uruguayans converted all their five attempts.