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Shocking Brazil By Fernando Duarte

Release date: 05th June, 2014
Publisher: Arena Sport

List Price: £12.99
Our Price: £8.96
You Save: £4.03 (31%)
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How a sports team or individual reacts to defeat, particularly an unexpected reverse, often tells us much about the loser’s mental strength.

Those who later become successful recall the desperate pain of defeat and recognise it is something they must avoid at all costs; others are so crushed, they can never attain a level of performance necessary to become a serial winner. Perhaps winners are those who, unwittingly, adhere to Sir Winston Churchill’s words of guidance: “in defeat, defiance.”

The great man’s advice could not always be said to apply to Brazilian football as Fernando Duarte explains in an absolutely compelling book which, although published to coincide with the World Cup, is head and shoulders above 99 percent of other, ‘tournament-linked’ publications.

Brazilian football reached its apogee in 1970 when Carlos Alberto lashed in Pele’s perfectly-weighted pass to score the world champions’ fourth goal in their 4 -1 defeat of Italy. That performance has been described as the greatest-ever by a football XI as Brazil played with panache, style and appeared to have an extraordinary amount of time with which to execute passes.

It’s difficult to argue with such a conclusion, for there have been only two ‘stylish’ victories in the intervening 44 years – Argentina in 1978 and France in 1998 – though neither came close to emulating Brazil’s beautiful football of 1970.

Duarte argues that the roots of Brazil’s success in Mexico (and of two other, much more cynical victories, in 1994 and 2002) can be found in the unexpected defeat they suffered at the hands of Uruguay in 1950.

That 2-1 defeat had such a devastating impact on Brazil’s national psyche that the Selecáo changed their shirt colours to the now familiar yellow and prompted what the author calls “one of the longest post-mortems in the history of sport.”

What follows is a marvellously engaging tale of football, politics, economics, corruption, madness and more corruption, all served on a bed of passion.

Duarte’s narrative, interspersed with anecdotes and player comments, is particularly engaging because his research has clearly been extensive.

From tales of Ademire ‘blessing’ a 14 year-old boy, to Neymar and the extraordinary national hopes pinned on his shoulders, this is a football book worth a place in any supporters’ library.


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