Brazil are the World Cup’s only ever-presents having appeared at every tournament from the first in 1930 until the present day. They are also the most successful nation in the history of the competition as five-times winners meaning they’ve won exactly a quarter of the World Cups they’ve competed in. That’s an even more remarkable record when you consider they didn’t break their duck until 1958 with a 33% success ratio from that tournament onwards.
This current crop of Brazilian talent has been widely tipped to add to their tally in Russia and claim their sixth crown and first since 2002. However they’ve got plenty to live up to with Brazilian sides through the ages regularly dazzling on the big stage with some brilliant individual and team performances.
Read more: Brazil’s greatest World Cup XI
Brazil at the World Cup – Key Stats
Overall Goals per Game Average at the World Cup – 2.13
Highest Scoring Tournament – 3.67 Goals per Game (1950)
Lowest Scoring Tournament – 0.86 Goals per Game (1974)
Top Goalscorer at World Cups – Ronaldo (15, 1998-2006)
Top Goalscorer at Individual Tournament – Ademir (9, 1950)
Brazil are best known as masters of attacking football and the stats largely reflect that, even though Germany did overtake them to become the highest scorers in the competition’s history four years ago. Brazil’s 221 World Cup goals have come at a rate of 2.13 goals per game, which is an exceptional record to have over such a long period of time.
However goals don’t always guarantee success. In 1950 Ademir scored nine times and Brazil averaged an incredible 3.67 goals per game as they hosted the tournament for the first time. However it was their comparatively tiny neighbours Uruguay that ultimately ruled supreme with a 2-1 victory in the final match.
Brazil have only once failed to net a goal per game or more at a World Cup. That was in 1974, the first tournament after the retirement of the great Pele. Gone was much of the attacking swagger that had lit up the 1970 tournament as Brazil failed to score in 4 of their 7 matches and ended up losing to Poland in a 3rd/4th place play-off.
It wasn’t really until the 1990’s when Brazil reclaimed their place at the very pinnacle of the world game with the likes of Romario and Ronaldo, who scored a Brazilian record 15 goals spread across three World Cups.
Best Defensive Record – 0.2 Goals per Game (1986)
Worst Defensive Record – 3 Goals per Game (1934)
Overall Goals Conceded per Game Average at the World Cup – 0.98
It might surprise a few people to learn that Brazil’s defensive record at World Cups is actually pretty impressive with just 0.98 goals per game conceded and compares favourably to the likes of Germany and Argentina. Even more surprising is that of the eight nations to have won the tournament, it is actually England who have the best overall defensive record with just 0.9 goals per game conceded, closely followed by Italy, the only other to have conceded less than one per game.
Brazil’s best defensive showing came in 1986 when they conceded just once in five matches. That goal was scored by France’s Michel Platini at the Quarter-Final stage and led to a penalty shoot-out which the Europeans won.
Statistically their worst showing at the back was in 1934 when their only match ended in a 3-1 defeat to Spain. They also conceded 2.2 goals per game four years later in 1938 and since then their worst defensive performances have come in 1966 and 2014 (2 goals per game conceded).
Read more: Brazil’s World Cup journey – 5 Key moments
Overall Win Ratio at the World Cup – 67%
100% Record – Twice (1970 & 2002)
Despite winning the competition five times, Brazil have only twice put together the perfect tournament and won all their matches inside ninety minutes. The first instance came in 1970 when they swept all aside and clinched glory in Mexico with the likes of Pele, Jairzinho and Carlos Alberto starring as they cruised past Italy 4-1 in the Final at the Estadio Azteca.
They repeated the feat 32 years later in the Far East with a perfect record of seven wins from seven. Brazil were behind for less than half an hour at that tournament, mostly when they trailed England to Michael Owen’s goal in the Quarter-Final although the three R’s of Ronaldinho, Rivaldo and Ronaldo combined with a bit of dodgy goalkeeping from David Seaman saw them through to the last four.
Brazil’s overall win ratio at the World Cup is an impressive 67% and their total number of wins (70) is more than any other nation has managed at the tournament. Barring an absolute disaster they should hold onto and perhaps even extend that record this summer with Germany currently next on 66 wins.
Most Successful Era – 3 World Cups in 12 Years (1958-1970)
Longest Period Without Winning the World Cup – 28 Years (1930-1958)
Last Time Brazil Failed to reach the Quarter-Finals – 1990
Last Time Brazil Failed to make it past the group stage – 1966
Brazil have never gone more than three decades without winning the World Cup but they’ve twice gone five tournaments without success. They didn’t win any of the opening five editions of the FIFA World Cup and they also failed to win any of the five tournaments between their successes in 1970 and 1994. Therefore even if Brazil fail to win the trophy in Russia, this won’t be their most barren spell in the competition’s history.
An ominous sign for their Group E opponents is that they’ve not failed to get out of the group at a World Cup in 52 years since a miserable campaign in England in 1966. The last time they failed to make the last eight was Italia 90 when they were knocked out by bitter rivals Argentina in the first knockout round.
Favourite Opponent – Russia (100% Win Ratio, 3 meetings)
Least Favourite Opponents – Hungary & Portugal (0% Win Ratio, 2 meetings)
Biggest World Cup Win – Brazil 7-1 Sweden (1950)
Heaviest World Cup Defeat – Brazil 1-7 Germany (2014)
Brazil have a 100% win ratio against 27 different nations at the FIFA World Cup. However of those sides, Russia (formerly Soviet Union) are the side that they’ve played the most. In terms of wins, Sweden are the side they’ve both faced and beaten the most (5 wins from 7 meetings). They also racked up their biggest ever win against the Scandinavians with a 7-1 victory in 1950. The draw in Russia, makes it plausible that they could end up facing Sweden again in the last sixteen of the 2018 World Cup.
On the other side of the coin, Brazil have lost both World Cup meetings against Hungary but clearly they won’t have to tackle the once-great Magyars this summer with Hungary’s 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign including a defeat to Andorra. They are one of just four sides to have recorded two World Cup victories (inside 90 minutes) over Brazil. Interestingly two of the others are also absent this summer in the shape of Italy and the Netherlands. However Brazil might just be keen to avoid France, who knocked them out in 1986, 1998 and 2006.
Either way, things surely won’t be as bad as four years ago when they suffered by far their heaviest ever World Cup defeat with a 7-1 loss to Germany. Brazil kick off their World Cup campaign against Switzerland this weekend and will be determined to build on a successful qualifying campaign.
Brazil in 2018 World Cup Qualifying – Key Stats
Goals scored per game – 2.28
Goals conceded per game – 0.62
Clean Sheet Ratio – 56%
Win Ratio – 67%
Loss Ratio – 6%
Top Scorer – Gabriel Jesus (7 Goals)
Most Assists – Neymar (8)
Brazil’s record in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup certainly bodes well for their chances in Russia. After losing their first game in Chile, they went 17 matches unbeaten to end with an impressive 67% win ratio and just 6% loss ratio. Just including games under the stewardship of Tite, their win ratio shoots up to 83%, some going in South America where there are hardly any easy games.
Defensively they were very good too. Having conceded 10 times in their final two matches at the 2014 World Cup, they conceded just 11 in 18 matches to make it to Russia. Crucially that extra defensive steel didn’t come at the cost of a decreased attacking threat. Brazil still managed to net 2.28 goals per game and scored 9 more goals than their nearest rivals Uruguay and over twice as many as Argentina.
Gabriel Jesus ended up as Brazil’s top scorer in qualifying despite only making his debut midway through the campaign. Playing predominantly in a wide role, Neymar’s goal threat decreased slightly but he still managed 8 assists, more than any other player in South America.
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