The expert on the match Russia – Brazil: “Without Neymar they don’t have stars”

Semifinalist of world Cup 1966 football, permanent expert “MK”, Vladimir Ponomarev before today’s meeting our players with the Brazilians recalled the part in friendly matches with the Brazilian national team and shared his expectations of the upcoming match in “Luzhniki”.

photo: Gennady Cherkasov

— I remember in 1965, the Brazilians came to us, led by the legendary Pele. Around the game was huge hype, great value she gave even the Soviet political authorities. Came to the team, as they called themselves, the Brazilians, the wizards of the ball. People in “Luzhniki” brought together more than 100 thousand. Before that we lived at the training camp in Bakovka. Now there is a base of “Locomotive”.

The situation escalated very seriously: came politicians passed the Komsomol and party meeting. Now this is ridiculous to say! It was decided that the match with the Brazilians in Moscow to win. Pumped us well. Sports leadership and coach of the USSR Nikolai Morozov was scared too. At the pre-match meeting, Nikolai Petrovich said: “Who does not do the job for the game, the team will not play”. For the players the coach is law. We have faithfully carried out the instruction and got the result: lost 0:3.

The next day was the analysis of the game, and I said to the coach: “will not play!”. Said, “What do you mean? You got a good grade for the game.” But the team lost! We played with four defenders and Brazilians, smart guys, our defense stretched across the entire width of the field. I played it right, kept their attacker, Vasily Danilov — left with Garrincha; in the middle of the field was Georgy Ryabov, Valery Voronin.

In “Luzhniki” field wide, more than 60 meters… Flavio and Pele pulled his guardians as they wanted. Albert Shesternev did not participate in this match due to injury. With him we would have such ugliness is not allowed… And I got a good mark! In football it does not happen and should not be.

In the end, Nikolay Petrovich decided: “In defence play as you want. Decide against whom to act”. Previously it was impossible to see the matches. We had no idea how they play. All the characteristics of the enemy we were told on the fingers: the height, weight and speed of player movement. Of course, a home game have failed. Lose disappointed all: for players and spectators. But depression was not: it was expected that we would lose.

In November of the same year was held the second meeting in Rio de Janeiro. When he left, in Moscow, it was “minus 30”. Arrived in Brazil, there is +30. Remember: the maracanã stadium, heavy ambience, sir. We played in the afternoon.

It’s awful…

— Yes, the Cup is heated. It was very difficult. But Brazilians are also waiting for this game and our players. They especially loved our strikers Mikheil Meskhi and Slava Metreveli. They worshipped almost as Pele and adored. They have a lot of time there traveling with the team. The whole town rushed to the “Rio de Janeiro”. Cars, people — all mixed up.

We drove from the hotel as if you were driving the President. Accompanied by police on motorbikes: two in front, three in back. Was full of cars, they were dispersed with batons. The siren howled over the city, in flames. We literally arrived and looked all the way to Windows: the police did wonders. One came on a motorcycle feet, threw the wheel and drove like a circus. Interesting sight! Behind us were traveling correspondents and filmed these tricks on film. In short, arrived at the stadium. Normally out on the field. Excitement immediately gone.

In the first half was hard, not yet acclimatized. As a result, the break lost 0:2. In the second half, felt better, drank some water, cooled the head… even in Moscow, read in the Newspapers: “the First goal scored by a head Anatoly banishevski, the second, also head — Slava Metreveli”.

— It was really?

These goals cannot be attributed to labor. They happened because of mistakes of defenders and the goalkeeper. There was so. Our Central striker banishevski was standing on the penalty and you may say, poked in the nose. Account 0:2, the second half… the Keeper of the Brazilians, a huge, two meters tall, was going to knock the ball into the box. And what do you think? The goalkeeper kicks the ball, by yelling “Bath” banishevski turns, the ball hits him in the head and flies into the net. The stadium is just dead, no one knows what it is. Just the shot Manga the ball — and he is already in the grid. Silence stood wild. Were taken aback at first even the judge. Two minutes everybody was awake. Only when the referee came over, took the ball and put it on the center field scoreboard was replaced by numerals and the stadium exploded.


— There are such complicated goals. The Brazilians were shocked, their Keeper too. They didn’t realize what it is. Then the canopy. For goalkeeper crouched Slava Metreveli. Manga missed the ball with his fist. From head Metreveli the ball flew into the net. Banishevski and Metreveli became almost the main heroes of the match. The Brazilians then wrote: “the Russians played with the score 2:2, and showed themselves worthy”. Press reviews were positive. After that, we began an international tour: Brazil, Uruguay, Chile. Peru, Colombia. There we have not lost even once, preparing for the world Cup and were confident in their abilities.

— Why the party leadership has shown such a high level of attention to match?

— It has always been. Pattern. Football is an emotional sport, he is close to politics. I will say more. Our Embassy employees were not allowed in some countries were not given visas, for example, in Chile. They went to our delegation and did their job, solved the problems with someone contact. So we helped diplomatic workers to our state.

— As the Brazilians belonged to the Soviet players?

— With great respect, and without any disdain. After the first match met in the restaurant “Metropol”, was sitting at the table. I had a notebook, and I collected their autographs. They were happy to sign 10 people, including Pele. Any infringement or disregard for we Brazilians felt. After the meeting, gave each other gifts, gave a nice speech, thanked for the game. All as expected.

— I think it was their attitude to football changed?

They still consider themselves the kings of football, although for a long time already it is not. Artists Such as Pele, may be born once in a hundred years. Never will such a team in his tenure. Changed and players and attitude to the sport. There are stars like Neymar, but in General, the Brazilian team became the team average. European teams interesting.

— So Russian team is able to provide Brazilians a noticeable resistance?

— Of course! Even without some of our strongest players. Football is football. Prominent players now in Brazil see Neymar do not arrive. Playing teams will be on equal footing, without advantage to anyone. The Brazilians are not so strong in this respect, not the wizards of the ball, as they called them before. Nothing serious… we Have Golovin is much remarkable.

— Even so?

— Yes, I like it in recent times, adds from game to game and in your head, tactically, and technically. Nice to look at its growth. He is not afraid of Brazilians. Sporty insolent boy! But to dive abroad he had not lost. Before going abroad you need to become a seasoned player. They’re playing wolves, we need to give everything in every match. While Golovin this: one match played to three rests. There is no stability. It comes with age and experience.

Do you like modern Brazil?

Football is always at a level. I remember after the game we played on Copacabana beach with Amateurs. Played in the morning, bombed out of their on the sand. They are very upset. They have the arrogance to hell. They are constantly hammered into your head that they are the best in the world. They live this idea.. let’s See how will compete at the world Championships. In the Cup of South America they are not in the first place, the leader of Argentina.

For us, Brazil is a strong contender. Just are used to it. But a legendary player Pele there was one.

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