Every single debate about the greatest footballers ever will not be complete without the mention of at least one Brazilian. In this article, we will take a look at Brazil’s greatest XI, considering only a player’s record for the national team.
GOALKEEPER: Claudio Taffarel
Taffarel was Brazil’s penalty shootout hero several times across his career, often against high profile opponents. Taffarel won two Copa America trophies and the 1994 World Cup. He maintained a very low profile throughout his career despite being a game-changer for Brazil.
DEFENDERS: Cafu, Djalma Santos, Lucio, Roberto Carlos
Cafu and Carlos were simply the best full-backs in the world until their retirement in 2006. Carlos was the more attacking one as he often made adventurous runs into the opposition box. He was a brilliant crosser of the ball, while also being adept at tracking back and defending in tight spaces. Arguably the greatest free-kick taker of all time, Carlos’s “banana shot” in 1997 is still spoken with high regard.
Cafu perfectly balanced the offensive and defensive side of his game, especially for Brazil. He mastered the art of making overlapping runs and providing pinpoint crosses to the striker. Like Carlos, Cafu also won two World Cups, two Copa America and one Confederation Cup.
Djalma Santos played mostly as a right-back in his illustrious career, but he was occasionally deployed in a more central role. He was known for his defensive capabilities, particularly his man-marking ability. Santos won consecutive World Cups in 1958 and 1962.
Lucio made his international debut in 2000 and retired with 101 caps to his name. He played an integral role in Brazil’s 2002 World Cup victory and also won two Confederation Cups in his career.
MIDFIELDERS: Dunga, Zico, Ronaldinho, Garrincha
Dunga is the easiest pick in Brazil’s greatest XI as he has no matches in the defensive midfield role. After receiving criticism for his performances in the 1990 World Cup, Dunga led Brazil to victory in the 1994 edition. He also captained Brazil in their victorious Copa America campaign in 1997 .
In this team, Garrincha will play as the right-winger/right attacking midfielder. Garrincha is regarded by many as the greatest dribbler of all time and possessed exquisite vision. He was the architect of the 1958 and 1962 World Cup victories.
On the left-wing of this Brazil team is Ronaldinho, the most skillful footballer to ever grace a football pitch. Ronaldinho, along with Ronaldo and Rivaldo formed a fearsome front three that won all major trophies. He could have enjoyed a longer career if not for his troubles off the pitch.
Zico will play through the center in a number 10 role, his favored position throughout his career. Zico was unselfish on the pitch and was capable of both scoring and creating. Zico has 48 goals in 71 appearances and deserves a place in Brazil’s greatest XI.
FORWARDS: Ronaldo Nazario and Pele
In Brazil’s greatest XI, Ronaldo and Pele form arguably the greatest strike partnership of all time. Ronaldo scored 62 goals in 98 appearances for Brazil and has won the World Cup golden boot and golden ball. Ronaldo re-invented the centre-forward position as he often dropped deep to combine with the midfielders.
Pele was the first global sporting icon, a man worshipped across continents throughout his playing career. He won three World Cups before retiring at the age of 31. His performances as a teenager in the 1958 World Cup is still spoken with much awe by those who witnessed him live.