SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil must not repeat the “national tragedy” of losing the 2014 World Cup as it did when it hosted the event in 1950, the country’s Minister of Sport Aldo Rebelo said.
“We cannot repeat the national tragedy of 1950 when we lost to Uruguay,” Rebelo told foreign journalists visiting Brazil as part of the buildup to the finals.
“It was like losing to your younger brother. Losing to Argentina, well that would be like losing to your brother-in-law and that is something that you also can never accept in the family.”
With seven months to go before the start of the Confederations Cup, next year’s precursor to the World Cup finals, Rebelo said that he was optimistic that all the airports, hotels and necessary infrastructure would be ready in time.
However, he said that underlying everything in soccer-mad Brazil was the trauma that followed the 1950 defeat at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
Watched by what is still the biggest crowd ever to assemble for a soccer match - estimated at between 199,000 and 205,000 - Uruguay beat Brazil 2-1 to claim their second World Cup after winning the inaugural tournament in Montevideo in 1930.
Brazil had to wait until the arrival of a 17-year-old Pele to win its first World Cup in 1958. In 2014 it will be aiming to become world champions for the sixth time, and erase the memory of 1950 once and for all.
Rebelo told Reuters: ”Losing to Uruguay in 1950 not only impacted on Brazilian soccer. It impacted on the country’s self-esteem. Brazilians felt defeated as a country and only felt redeemed when we won the 1958 World Cup and we abandoned what the writer Nelson Rodrigues called ‘the stray dog complex’ so winning the World Cup is very important to us.
”There are defeats and there are defeats, but we do not want another one like we had in 1950 and we are counting on a victory because we are playing at home and I am not being modest but we have the best players in the world.
”We are different to the Europeans. Our style is based on technical excellence as well as creativity, a capacity to improvise and the offer of freedom to our artists.
”European style is based on tactical discipline and collective force and if we copy the Europeans we’ll be lost. We will lose.
”We have the force, the technique and creativity and technical discipline to win the World Cup. I am optimistic now that (Luiz Felipe) Scolari is back as the coach. I am optimistic about our players. No team has the same kind of quality that Lucas and Neymar have on either side of the field.
“Argentina has an exceptionally good player in Lionel Messi but he does not have another player on the other side of the field as good as him to help him, and Argentina’s defenders are not as good as ours.”
Rebelo did not mention world champions Spain, widely regarded as favorites heading into the 2014 World Cup finals. The Spanish side are admired in Brazil for playing a style of football reminiscent of the “beautiful game” made popular by the great Brazilian teams of the past.
Reporting by Mike Collett, editing by John Mehaffey