Brazil and the five "10"s
Having won the World Cup in 1958 and 1962, Brazil had been looking to complete a hat-trick in England. Instead, their ageing side was unceremoniously dumped out in the group stage, courtesy of some terrible tackling which went unpunished. They would look to make amends four years later in Mexico.
Going into the tournament Brazil were far from favourites. Poor results and the threat of dropping the untouchable Pele had put an end to the tenure as manager of Joao Saldanha, and into his place came the inexperienced Mario Zagallo. Zagallo had of course played a major part as a player in the development of the 4-3-3, and as a manager he would also be a part of a key tactical moment.
Like Ramsey, Zagallo recognised the need for an anchor in midfield, and also like Ramsey he knew the burden of acting as the sole playmaker was too great for one man. However, Brazil had rather a greater abundance of riches among the playmakers than England. First among them of course was Pele, an inside-left but also the player that defined the role of number ten. Zagallo also had Gerson, a fabulous passer, though less than mobile, who he wished to use as a deep lying playmaker. In addition there was Tostao, a young forward from Cruzeiro, who was also more used to creating goals than scoring them. The key was the players to play around these.
On the left of midfield, Zagallo selected Rivellino, essentially a central playmaker himself, but possessing one of the sweetest left foots in the history of the game. Then on the right they used Jairzinho, himself a creator at club level and possessing blistering pace that would give fullbacks nightmares. The front five players were all essentially creators, and as such became known as the five 10s, in reference to the traditional number for an inside left.
Remarkably the system worked, with each of the players continually moving and occupying the space another had left. Rivellino would frequently drift inside to assist Gerson, who would himself occasionally move to the left. Both Pele and Tostao would come deep in search of the ball, while Jairzinho acted on many occasions as the team’s striker, despite being nominally asked to occupy the right wing. Brazil’s opponents in the 1970 final, Italy, had two sublime playmakers of their own in Rivera and Sandro Mazzola, but took the opposite approach. Each player was given half a game, and it was felt the two could never feature together. How different managers had different approaches.
|Brazil (below) v. Italy, 1970|