Historic debuts and improbable comebacks: when Russia play Brazil
So far, only two national teams have already confirmed their spots at the 2018 FIFA World Cup™: host nation Russia and recently qualified Brazil.
The head-to-head between these two countries does not make for extensive reading in competitive matches, since Russia and Brazil have only crossed paths three times in the World Cup (1958, 1982 and 1994), and on every occasion, it finished in a victory for A Seleção.
Nevertheless, the history of this fixture is full of fascinating stories, like when the Soviet Union played Brazil for the very first time at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden and 17-year-old prodigy Pele made his bow on the world stage.
On that occasion, the Brazilian superstar was unable to score past Lev Yashin, with whom he would become friends with in the future, and he had to wait seven years until a friendly at the Maracana to achieve that feat.
Looking at the form guide, the five-time world champions have had the upper hand in most of their 14 matches against the Sbornaya, winning eight, drawing three and losing three with an aggregate score of 24-10. However, Russia have had some memorable moments: none greater than the victory against Brazil in the final of the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, which was one of the biggest triumphs in Soviet football history and put Brazil’s wait for Olympic gold in men's football back another 28 years.
Here are some iconic images from these encounters in this FIFA.com photo gallery.