As well as being a Brazilian legend for his part in that golden Mexican triumph of 1970, Tostão is now one of Brazil’s most perceptive – and hence most respected – football analysts. With an economy that would shame his colleagues around the world, twice a week he gets right to the heart of footballing matters for readers of Folha de S.Paulo.
So when he lets his former team have it with both barrels in a column on the morning of a final against Argentina, one should sit up and listen to what he has to say.
With typical forthrightness he identifies a growing feeling in Brazil that A Seleção is increasingly no longer the people’s team:
“There is disgust and indifference or disillusion among many fans with the players and the Brazilian team (not just this one) which seems more a team of CBF, of businessmen and sponsors than it does of Brazil.”
For Tostão the proof of that is the feelings of many Brazilian fans ahead of the game today:
“In other times, if a Brazilian fan said he would support Argentina he’d be locked up as crazy or exiled. Times change. Many now say they are going to cheer that Brazil loses because it would do justice to the best team in the Copa America, Dunga could leave…..Others want to cheer against Brazil but it feels wrong. The fan is confused.”
Tostão’s big fear is that if Brazil wins Dunga will feel vindicated in his philosophy that the team who wins is good and this will lead to Brazil starting the World Cup qualifiers with three holding midfielders and leave one of Kaká or Ronaldinho on the bench, heresy for one of the game’s great attacking midfielders.
What is clear is that Tostão has little or no time for Dunga:
“It is lamentable the lack of value Dunga and other coaches have for the quality of football – they only think in results – and the aggressive relationship of the coach [Dunga] with the press. Dunga confuses weakness with rudeness.”
But while Tostão lets Dunga’s team have it he has a word of caution for Argentina:
“Argentina have more individual quality [for Tostão Brazil only have to craques: Robinho and Juan] but they also have their problems. The passing and patience of Argentina, widely praised, could be interpreted in a defeat as slowness. Also, Josué and Mineiro, excellent markers, are going to make difficult this passing game.”
How interesting it would be to watch the game with Tostão on the sofa beside you!