Most football fans around the world consider Brazil among the favorites to win the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Seleção team boasts a mean, potent attack, a robust midfield, and the usual Samba flair, elements needed to win high-pressure, high-quality tournaments like the World Cup.
Should that happen, the World Cup’s most successful nation will add yet another feather to their glittering cap, a feat that has eluded them since 2002.
Winning the Qatar 2022 tournament will be no mean feat, especially with several footballing powerhouses in the running for the game’s biggest accolade. Despite Argentina, France, Portugal, and more showing their credentials, a look back at previous Brazil World Cup wins shows why the Samba Boys remain frontrunners.
World Champions 1958
Having finished third and runners-up in 1950 and 1954, Brazil came into the 1958 World Cup in Sweden as heavy favorites. Ultimately, they would clinch the first of five Brazil World Cup wins, a tournament best remembered as Pelé’s introduction to the football world.
The Seleção were seeded in a tough Group 4 alongside the Soviet Union (reigning Olympic champions), Austria (1954 World Cup bronze medallists), and England, a formidable team despite losing several players in the Munich air disaster.
The group produced 15 goals, but the 0-0 draw between England and Brazil was the first goalless draw at the World Cup finals. And the first time Brazil had failed to score. Brazil won the group, with the Soviet Union beating England 1-0 in a playoff to take second place.
Brazil beat Austria 3-0 in the first group game, drew England 0-0 in the second, and then beat the Soviet Union 2-0, with Altafini (3), Nilton Santos (1), and Vava (2) as goalscorers.
Pelé’s 66th-minute goal gave Brazil a 1-0 quarterfinals victory over Wales before his record-setting hattrick saw the team overcome France 5-2 in the semi-finals. Vavá and Didi grabbed the other goals. Pelé remains the youngest player to score a hat trick at the finals.
The final between the Brazil national football team and hosts Sweden was eccentric. Vavá and Pelé scored braces in a 5-2 comeback win over the hosts, Sweden, with Mario Zagallo scoring the fourth.
Seleção won five and drew one of their six matches to seal the first of five Brazil World Cup wins. Pelé finished joint-second top scorer with six goals behind Just Fontaine and was picked for the team of the tournament.
World Champions 1962
Brazil entered the tournament looking to match Italy’s feat of defending their World Cup crown. Fourteen nations qualified for the finals tournament, alongside Chile, the hosts, and Brazil, the defending champions.
Seleção talisman Pelé was injured early in the group stages. He was sidelined for the remainder of the tournament, but Garrincha and Vava took over to power the team to another one of Brazil’s World Cup wins. They combined to score eight goals in the tournament knockout stages, helping Brazil replace Pelé’s goals.
Brazil was seeded in Group 3 alongside Czechoslovakia, Mexico, and Spain. In the opening group stage game, Brazil beat Mexico 2-0 thanks to goals from Zagallo and Pelé before drawing 0-0 with Czechoslovakia.
The Samba Boys then beat Spain 2-1, with Amarildo scoring a late double to secure a comeback win that secured the top spot in the group with five points. Czechoslovakia came second by three points.
Brazil met their 1958 group-stage opponents in the quarterfinals, beating England 3-1. Garrincha scored a double either side of halftime, with Vavá’s second-half goal ensuring passage to the semi-finals. Gerald Hitchens scored for England in the first half.
Brazil’s semi-final opponent was fellow south American contenders chile, who was successfully dispatched 4-2 with braces from Garrincha and Vavá in the first and second halves, respectively. Chile finished third.
In the final, defending champions Brazil trailed Czechoslovakia, having conceded a 15th-minute Josef Masopust goal. Successive victory depended on another comeback win. Amarildo equalized for the Seleção two minutes later before second-half goals from Zito and Vavá ensured Brazil would become only the second ever and the last team to defend their World Cup crown.
World Champions 1970
Led by former Seleção star Mario Zagallo, the Brazil 1970 FIFA World Cup team is considered the greatest-ever national football team. Powered by the creative Pele and goal-scoring Jairzinho, Seleção set out to atone for a poor showing at the 1966 tournament in England, where they exited at the group stages. And they did.
The Samba Boys drew a tough group alongside defending world champions England, 1962 World Cup runners-up Czechoslovakia, and Romania. They thrashed Czechoslovakia 4-1 in the opening group game, defeated England 1-0, and beat Romania 3-2. Thus, Brazil won the group, with England finishing second.
Brazil bested quarterfinals opposition Peru 4-2 thanks to goals from Roberto Rivellino, Jairzinho, and a Tostão brace. In the semi-finals, two-time World Cup winner Uruguay lost 3-1 in a comeback victory after the Seleção fell behind to a 19th-minute Luis Almeida goal. Clodoaldo equalized in the 44th minute before a late second-half blitz brought winning goals from Jairzinho and Rivellino to send Brazil into the finals.
The 1970 World Cup final contested by Brazil and Italy was the first to pit two former world champions.
Pele scored an 18th-minute opening goal, but Italy equalized through Roberto Boninsegna. However, second-half goals from Gérson Nunes, Jairzinho, and Carlos Alberto secured a third of Brazil’s World Cup wins, making Mário Zagallo the first man to win the trophy as a player (1958 and 1962) and coach.
Jairzinho scored in every match, the only player ever to do so, while Pelé scored four, assisted six (a record by a single player), and created 28 chances. Pelé remains the only player to win three editions of the most famous soccer tournament in the world.
World Champions 1994
Contrary to expectations, Brazil’s 1994 FIFA World Cup squad was not very potent. Top-seed Brazil was drawn into a seemingly favorable Group B along with Russia, Cameroon, and Sweden.
However, the Seleção found the going tough at the tournament hosted across the USA. Still, the team’s gritty fighting spirit saw them triumph by slim margins on numerous occasions.
In the group stages, Brazil beat Russia 2-0 in the opening game before defeating Cameroon 3-0 and drawing with eventual semi-finalist Sweden 1-1.
Like Group C, only two group B teams advanced to the second round, while Russia’s 6-1 demolition of Cameroon saw Oleg Salenko become the first and so far only man to score five World Cup goals in a single game. At 42, Cameroon’s Roger Milla became the oldest World Cup goalscorer of all time, netting his country’s consolation goal in the game.
The knockout stage saw Brazil defeat the host United States 1-0 in the round of 16, with Bebeto scoring the winner in the 72nd minute. The Seleção grabbed another narrow win in the quarterfinals, defeating the Netherlands 3-2 with second-half goals from Romário, Bebeto, and Branco.
The semi-finals re-united Brazil and group stage opponents Sweden, with the Seleção triumphing 1-0 thanks to an 80th-minute Romário winner.
In the final, former World Cup winners Brazil and Italy could not be separated after extra time, having drawn 0-0 in regulation time. The Samba Boys triumphed 3-2 in the penalty shootout, with Márcio Santos missing Brazil’s first penalty kick while Franchino Baresi, Daniele Massaro, and Roberto Baggio missed for Italy.
Brazil won five games and drew two, including the final, scoring 11 goals and conceding three.
World Champions 2002
The first-ever jointly hosted World Cup tournament saw heavy favorites France and Argentina eliminated at the group stage, allowing the Seleção to capitalize. Having been runners-up at the France 1998 World Cup, Brazil landed a favorable Group C that included Turkey, Costa Rica, and China.
The Samba Boys easily topped the group, winning all the games. Star striker Ronaldo and Rivaldo provided the goals in a 2-1 opening win over Turkey; Roberto Carlos, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, and Ronaldo scored in a 4-0 demolition of China, with a 5-2 victory over Costa Rica closing out the group. Ronaldo (2), Edmílson, Rivaldo, and Júnior provided the goals.
Brazil overcame Belgium 2-0 in the round of 16, with Rivaldo and Ronaldinho finding the goals in a 2-1 quarterfinal comeback win over England. In the semi-finals, Ronaldo’s 49th-minute winner against their group stage opponents Turkey secured progression to the showpiece event, where the Seleção faced Germany following their own 1-0 victory over co-hosts South Korea.
Played in Yokohama, Japan, the tournament final was tightly contested. After a scoreless first half, strike sensation Ronaldo scored two second-half goals in the 67th and 79th minute, securing the last of five Brazil World Cup wins.
Ronaldo’s eight goals at the World Cup finals won him the Golden Shoe for tournament top scorer. Brazil became only the second team, after Argentina in 1986, to win the WC without needing a penalty shootout.
The Seleção became the first team to win every game at a World Cup tournament, recording a record +14 aggregate score at such tournaments. And Cafu, the captain, was the first to play in three consecutive World Cup finals.