Parreira: Brazil’s 1994 World Champions did it without the ball

The former World Cup winner says his Selecao side's organisation and resilience was key to their success, and that they did their way

Former Brazil manager Carlos Alberto Parreira has labelled his 1994 World Cup-winning side as one of the best he’s seen – without the ball.

Parreira took the stage this week at the Brazilian Football Confederation’s (CBF) Somos Futebol event in Rio de Janeiro, a week-long event of debates and presentations on the sport, which features the likes of Marcelo Bielsa, Fabio Capello and current Brazil coach Tite.

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And during a fascinating discussion, he opened up on the reasons he believes his side won Brazil’s fourth world title.

"A lot of people misinterpret even today [our style of play], we did not take a European approach,” Parreira said of his side that lined up in a solid 4-4-2 which was ubiquitous across Europe – though it should be remembered that Brazil invented the modern back four.

Romario e Carlos Alberto Parreira

“Brazil always played that line of four, marking zonally, the full-backs pushing on,” he continued. 

“Now that team was a team that was organised without the ball. The ‘94 side was one of the best organised Brazilian teams I have ever seen. The full-backs went forward, Bebeto and Romario decided games… and they knew how to play without the ball.”

The Dunga-led 1994 team arrived in North America under intense pressure, with the fallout of Italia 1990, which saw Brazil eliminated by Argentina, still fresh in the memory.

Parreira said: “We had mature players, experienced players, and they were under a lot of pressure, it’d been three years of great pressure. Together we learned how to win both on and off the field. It was important to know how to manage the press, to deal with the supporters’ expectations and be able to distance yourself.”

Claudio Taffarel Roberto Baggio Italy Brazil World Cup 1994

Parreira also believes that having the courage of his convictions was vital, having come under heavy criticism particularly for his defensive-minded central midfield. 

"What was important about '94 was that we won with our ideas, with Mauro Silva and Dunga – labelled ‘two bruisers who could not play together’ –  and we kept our convictions to the end," he said.

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“We did not change anything, because we knew we had a team what it took when the moment arrived. The group knew that they would win it, they had that mentality.”

Parreira also spoke about the current success of the Brazil side under coach Tite, insisting Brazil’s return to World Cup qualifying, after hosting in 2014, is vital to team and character building. 

"The qualifiers are great because you play against Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, every match you face adversity," he said. "We lost 2-0 to Bolivia once and we could not get into the hotel, the Bolivian people were all there - 100,000 of them provoking us. In the return we channelled that anger and won. The qualifiers give you a lot.”