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Ranking Brazil’s top 3 World Cup campaigns

Pele World Cup
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World Cup’s record winners have created some of the tournament’s greatest moments.

Brazil have claimed five World Cup trophies, establishing a reputation as the ultimate football nation.

Brazil’s rich football culture is not limited to their international team. But the Selecao has been a constant reminder of the South American nation’s love for football.

A never-ending stream of young talents has conquered Europe’s football leagues. But they’ve all come together to make Brazil the most decorated team in the World Cup.

Let’s take a look at Brazil’s best-ever World Cup campaigns.

1994 World Cup: Back to the elite

Brazil came into the 1994 tournament in the USA after more than a decade of disappointing World Cup campaigns.

Following their last trophy with Pele in 1970, the Selecao lost two semi-finals in 1974 and 1978. But then came the 1980s, when they weren’t able to get past the quarter-finals.

By the time they prepared for the 1994 games, Brazil were blessed with a new generation of young stars.

The likes of Dunga, Romario and Bebeto were the cornerstones of the Selecao’s squad, while younger stars such as Cafu and Ronaldo were hoping to get World Cup minutes.

Sweden held Brazil to a 1-1 draw in the group stage. But the Selecao reached the knockout round by beating Russia and Cameroon.

Bebeto then scored the winner for Brazil in their 1-0 win over USA in a highly-controversial clash in the last-16 round.

The Selecao then met Netherlands in one of the most thrilling games of the tournament in the quarter-finals. 

Romario and Bebeto’s second-half goals were nullified by Dennis Bergkamp and Aron Winter. However, Branco won the game for the Selecao with an unstoppable free-kick from long range in the 81st minute.

In the semi-finals, Brazil faced Sweden once again. However, this time, they managed to beat their opponents 1-0 to reach the tournament’s final.

The Selecao took on Italy in a rematch of the 1970 World Cup final, where they had defeated the Azzurri 4-1.

Unlike that game, however, both teams were wasteful in front of the goal. Brazil dominated the extra times, but the game was destined to be decided by the penalties.

In one of the most iconic penalty shootouts in the tournament’s history, Brazil managed to beat their opponents 3-2 to win the World Cup.

Roberto Baggio suffered the worst moment of his career when he missed Italy’s fifth penalty in the Rose Bowl Stadium.

2002 World Cup: A star-studded squad

Brazil’s World Cup-winner squad of 1994 only got stronger in the following decade. 

The Selecao lost the World Cup final to France in 1998. But by the next tournament, they were ready to bounce back with one of the best teams in football history.

Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Cafu, Dida and Rivaldo were all parts of this legendary squad that played under Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Brazil smashed Turkey, China, and Costa Rica to reach the last-16 round in style.

Ronaldo, who had registered three goals in the group stage, scored again for the Selecao when they marched past Belgium to the quarter-finals.

Brazil then met England in a game that saw Ronaldinho shine in one of the most memorable performances of his career.

He first provided an assist for Rivaldo’s equalizer in the 46th minute. An insane free-kick came next as Ronaldinho put the Selecao ahead ten minutes into the second half.

Only five minutes later, the Brazil legend received a red card for his challenge on Danny Mills. But the ten-man Selecao managed to hold on to their 2-1 win.

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Ronaldinho missed Brazil’s semi-final win over Turkey but played against Germany in the final.

Brazil locked horns with Turkey in a rematch of their group-stage clash earlier in the tournament.

Similar to that game, Brazil managed to break Turkey’s fierce resistance with constant attacks from all sides. Ronaldo scored again for the Selecao as they reached the final with a 1-0 win.

In the final, Brazil locked met Germany, who had reached the final for the first time since their triumph in 1994.

Oliver Kahn, who won the tournament’s best player award, made a few more wonderful saves against Brazil. But Ronaldo’s magic just had to determine that trophy’s outcome.

Similar to what Zidane did to Brazil in the 1998 final, Ronaldo scored a brace to seal Selecao’s fifth World Cup title.

1958 World Cup: A legend is born

Brazil were consistently among the most powerful teams in the World Cup during the pre-war years.

In 1950, they managed to reach the final for the first time but lost to Uruguay. The 1954 tournament started on a promising note for Brazil. But a frustrating quarter-final defeat against Hungary ruined Selecao’s World Cup dreams.

Then came a 17-year-old youngster who changed everything with his wonderful performances in the 1958 World Cup.

Pele didn’t play for Brazil until their last group-stage match against Soviet Union. But Selecao managed to qualify to the knockout stage as group leaders.

In the quarter-finals, Brazil took on Wales, who were experiencing their first World Cup campaign. 

Pele scored Brazil’s only goal of the game as they reached the semi-finals with a 1-0 win.

Brazil then locked horns with France, who had the likes of Just Fontaine and Raymond Kopa in their ranks.

In a historic World Cup victory for Brazil, Pele scored a second-half hattrick against the Blues. Brazil smashed France 5-2 as they marched to the Stockholm final.

Brazil faced Sweden, who hosted the tournament, in the final. But they were just as ruthless as they were against France.

A similar 5-2 win saw Brazil claim their first-ever World Cup title. Pele scored two more goals to complete his legendary campaign. He started the tournament as a teenage sensation and ended it as the world’s best player.

The tournament started a golden period for Brazil in the World Cup. With Pele, the Selecao claimed the title two more times in 1962 and 1970.