There was a time when the first sight of Brazil at a World Cup finals was truly a magical experience. It was a chance to get acquainted with players you had heard great things about never actually seen. And they rarely disappointed.
It is often said that when colour TV was around in time for the 1970 finals, the bright yellow shirts brought their football to life even more for the viewing public. I’m not quite old enough to remember that vintage but, in 1982, watching a team I could still reel off name-by-name was such a thrill as they racked up 15 goals in five games but still went on in an all-time classic tie with Italy.
They remain one of the best sides I’ve ever seen and form part of a legacy that the 2022 version will find hard to live up to but who won’t be dazzled by the Selecao’s skills come Thursday? The thing is I quite rate Serbia too, a nation more than capable of being dark horses, and tough-as-teak opening opponents for the South Americans.
It’s a night game, the pressure will be intense and the world will be watching. If it’s not too cliched, flair and artistry against excellent organisation and full-on commitment could make for fascinating viewing.