Whenever Brazil, Uruguay and the FIFA World Cup™ are mentioned in the same breath, the mind inevitably goes back to the dramatic encounters the two nations have served up in the past. Whether it is the last match of the 1950 world finals, when La Celeste conquered a disbelieving Maracana, or A Seleção’s magical revenge mission in the semi-finals at Mexico 1970, fans of the two countries have some very fond memories to fall back on.
With the biggest event in world football being staged on Brazilian soil once again this year, such recollections have come flooding back, prompting FIFA.com to sit down with Canarinha boss Luiz Felipe Scolari and his Charrúa counterpart Oscar Tabarez to discuss the passionate rivalry between these two neighbours.
Both coaches grew up with the legend of the Maracanazo, the starting point for their trip down memory lane.
“The story I heard when I was a boy just grew out of all proportion and wasn’t told right,” said El Maestro Tabarez, somewhat surprisingly.
For his part, Scolari believed his countrymen have always looked on that fateful match in the wrong way: “I don’t agree with people who see it as something negative, because it was the first time that Brazil had ever got so far. We might have lost that year, but it was the start of a process in which we have become world champions five times.”
The two also analysed and reflected on that golden afternoon in Guadalajara 20 years later, when A Seleção set the record straight, inspired by a memorable display from Pele, who produced one of the World Cup’s defining moments in flummoxing Uruguay goalkeeper Ladislao Mazurkiewicz with an outrageous dummy outside the box.
After looking back on that game and summing up the rivalry as a whole, the two master strategists ended the interview by discussing the source of their friendship off the pitch.
It is a friendship that will no doubt be put on hold should the two countries come face-to-face again at Brazil 2014, at least for 90 minutes. Expressing his admiration for Tabarez, Scolari said, “I admire him an awful lot, both as a coach and because of the way he handles himself with his players, fellow coaches and friends, of whom I consider myself one.”
*You can read more about the historic rivalry between Brazil and Uruguay in the article “Uruguay and Brazil prove opposites attract”, featured in the column on the right.