Monday, April 29, 2019

The Soccernostalgia Interview-Part Five

I had the privilege to interview Brazilian Journalist Mr. Victor de Andrade about Brazil’s perspective on the 1997 Tournoi de France.
I would like to thank Mr. Caio Alves of for getting me in contact with de Andrade.

Soccernostalgia Question: First of all thank you for your time for this interview Mr. de Andrade. What were the expectations of the Brazilian Press and the fans in general going into this Tournament?

Response: In fact, in spite of the opponents, here in Brazil was facing the Tournament of France of 1997 like other friendly that the Brazilian Selection did in Europe. The most important was the Copa América, which would be held soon after, in Bolivia, where Brazil was the champion. However, as before this tournament, the Brazilian team was defeated by Norway, paying attention to see how the Brazilian team would behave against France, Italy and England increased.

Soccernostalgia Question: This was the first season that Ronaldo had broken through after his season at Barcelona. During the Tournoi, he was on verge of and eventually joined Inter. Can you describe the Press’ view and coverage of this?

Response: The expectation was great, because after a masterful season by Barcelona, having reached the rank of best player of the world, no one imagined that Ronaldo would leave the Barcelona. But at the same time, he had questions about how he would play in Italian football, admittedly with the strongest mark and also considered the best league in the world at the time.

Soccernostalgia Question: This was also the year that Romario returned to the National Team. Romario and Ronaldo had teamed up successfully together for the first time in a February 1997 friendly vs. Poland. Did the Brazil Press assume they would be together until the 1998 World Cup?

Response: In fact, there was neither presumption nor certainty! Having Romario and Ronaldo in the attack was a kind of dream, something like having Pelé and Garrincha. Except that no one expected Romario's muscular problem on the eve of the World Cup and the cut ended up coming. There are many people who say that if Romário was in the World Cup final (France 3 to 0), the result would be different. It is worth mentioning that muscle bruises persecuted Romário in that phase of his career. For example, he came out at the start of the final of the 2000 João Havelange Cup (which counted as the Brazilian Championship that year), between Vasco and São Caetano (a game that was interrupted shortly after his exit because of a fall of the fence and match was redone, with him in the field) and in the semifinal of the Brazilian Championship of 2002, between Fluminense and Corinthians. In both cases, Romario left the field with muscular problems.

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 112, May 1998
(Brazil squad, June 3, 1997, Le Tournoi, France 1-Brazil 1)

Soccernostalgia Question: What Brazilian players did the press clamor for that were not selected for the Tournoi?

Response: At that very moment there was no such strong cry. The biggest absence was Rivaldo, but Zagallo had not called since his bad performances at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. Then he returned to wear the yellow jersey and even became a starter in the World Cup. Closer to the World Cup, striker Müller (who had already played in the 1986, 1990 and 1994 World Cups and then defended Santos) and defender Mauro Galvão (who was in the 1986 and 1990 World Cups and was in Vasco) were the most requested players, but were not called by Zagallo.

Soccernostalgia Question: Why do you think Marcio Santos did so poorly vs. Norway, just before the Tournoi. Should have had another chance?

Response:  Indeed, Marcio Santos was poor in the friendly against Norway and ended up losing space in the National Team. However, shortly thereafter, he went to São Paulo where he made great presentations and he was on the original list of squad for the 1998 World Cup. But a few days after the announcement of the squad, he was injured in the Championship final Paulista, where the São Paulo was champion winning Corinthians, and he was cut from the World Cup, with André Cruz being called in his place.

Soccernostalgia Question: Aldair was one of the players under the most scrutiny with the Brazilian Press. Whom did they prefer as an alternative?

Response:  This view on Aldair was not unanimous among the Brazilian press. Some thought he was not in the best shape, others, like me, considered him the most technical Brazilian defender in activity at the time. Brazil had good defenders at that moment, and the requests were several: Junior Baiano (who was called up and started the World Cup), André Cruz, Mauro Galvão, Adilson (from Grêmio, Zagallo also did not call him), Antônio Carlos Zago , among others. There were several options.

Soccernostalgia Question: Mauro Silva lost his spot after the Tournoi. Was it just age catching up with him?

Response:  I think age was the least important. In the position, Brazil had players like Dunga, Cesar Sampaio (who were the holders in the Worlds) Doriva, Emerson (were in reserve) and Flávio Conceição (who was in the list for the World Cup, but also was cut by injury). Ze Elias, who was at the right time, as well as Mauro Silva, were left out! Well, as you can see, there were several good choices and it was just a coach's choice.

Soccernostalgia Question: Roberto Carlos’ free kick vs. France is always going to live in memory as part of Football History. Can you describe your reaction in live time?

Response:  Wow!!! What a goal!!! That ball came out with an incredible effect. That kick should become a thesis of some physics course! Something only football can offer!

Soccernostalgia Question: How do you judge Brazil’s performance against France in general?

Response:  A game that sums up well what was the Brasilia Team at the time. Many individual talents without any tactical organization. Zagallo was already very outdated at the time, despite being very important in the history of Brazilian football, and the team was very messy tactically. However, with the amount of talent that had, an hour was always a move of genius and she came in the free kick of Roberto Carlos.

Photo From: Onze-Mondial, Issue 121, February 1999
(Bixente Lizarazu and Ronaldo, June 3, 1997, Le Tournoi, France 1-Brazil 1)

Soccernostalgia Question: How do the Brazilians regard the classic vs. Italy today and how was it regarded it at the time? Was the emphasis on Brazil’s fight back or its defensive vulnerability? What are your personal memories of this match?

Response:  To be honest, you do not remember so much about this game today. As she was not in a World Cup or America's Cup, only the most enthusiastic remember. However, the soccer fan in Brazil loves games with many goals. A 3 to 3, 4 to 4, 6 to 5 is to leave the fan in ecstasy. And this game was like that too. And once again the individual talents came out (for that the goals in front) and the tactical mess added to the faulty defensive system (the goals suffered). Zagallo was harshly criticized, so even after the Brazilian team won the Copa América, he released the famous phrase " Vocês vão ter que me engolir” (em inglês: You're going to have to swallow me), which was justly against the criticisms he received.

Photo From: L'Annee du Football, 1997
(June 8, 1997, Le Tournoi, Brazil 3-Italy 3)

Soccernostalgia Question: Zagallo felt the third match vs. England was their most complete match? Do you agree?

Response:  I agree with the coach in this case. Brazil made its best game against England. However, it is good to remember that the British had already secured the title of the competition and entered, say, more relaxed in the game against the Brazilian National Team.

Soccernostalgia Question: Ronaldo had a relatively quiet tournament, was it as most speculated because of his transfer wrangle between Barcelona and Inter?

Response:  Speculation may have messed up, of course! Ronaldo had not yet completed 21 years at the time. Despite the name he had. But it is good to remember that in the Copa America he went very well and was one of the big names in the competition.

Soccernostalgia Question: The Tournoi also allowed Denilson to break-out. Was it good for him or did it ruin him in the long run?

Response:  Not in that moment. Denilson was very young and continued to be constantly called to the national team. What's more, his first semester in 1998 was great and that was why it was the biggest transaction in Brazilian football history when São Paulo sold it to Real Betis. And in the World Cup was the "12th player", always entering the matches. And another: Djalminha is one of the players most wronged (much because of his temperament and confusions) of Brazilian soccer. He was a very talented midfielder, who did what he wanted with the ball. No wonder he was one of the big names in Deportivo La Coruna's only Spanish league title.

Soccernostalgia Question: Which Brazilian players stood out for you?

Response:  Romário, Roberto Carlos and Djalminha (when he entered, which ended up giving him the title in the Copa America).

Soccernostalgia Question: Which Brazilian players did poorly and did not seize thee opportunity given to them?

Response:  Giovanni (who left the Seleção but returned to play well and went to the World Cup), Mauro Silva, Marcio Santos (the same as Giovanni, but was injured) and Célio Silva.

Soccernostalgia Question: How did the Brazlian press view the Tournoi as a whole at the end? 

Response:  That France had to grow a lot. That Italy was fine and England, despite the title, still left doubts. And Brazil was what I said before: a team with a lot of talent, but without the least tactical organization.

Thank you once again for the interview

You may follow Mr.Victor de Andrade
on Facebook on: O Curioso do Futebol
On twitter: @ocuriosofutebol

You may follow Mr. Caio Alves
On twitter: @CaioalAlves 

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