Pele's Superiority and Inferiority to Messi

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Post by Lord Spencer Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:31 pm

Why Pele will always be superior to Messi and at the same time always be inferior?

Since I left this forum for a bunch of reasons (prime among them my disillusionment with the sport, more on that later) a number of months ago, I always wanted to comeback one way or another. However, the more time passed, the harder it became to comeback. I wanted to come back with a bang so to speak. The latest hugely expected news--Messi winning the B award—gave me the powder keg I needed.
My first contribution to this forum was in a thread dedicated to discrediting Pele. I came to his defense, not because I think Pele to be superior to all other athletes, but because I take historical context very seriously. Anyway, with the first beginning belonging to Pele, it is poetically cool for the second beginning to be about Pele as well.

However, this is not only about Pele and Messi, but about all the football greats, the widely known of them and the unknown.

Well here goes:-

First; the ludicrous idea of the Best Footballer:
Not even in Tennis--a singles sport--is the question easily resolved in a single year, yet we continue to throw this title around in a game where twenty two players play against each other in the field. This is the single greatest argument against the idea of there being an absolutely BEST player in a single year, extrapolating this to different eras, it become absolutely insane.
Look at it this way; we have twenty outfield players, each a variable in the equation, and two goalkeepers, both even bigger variables than the outfield players. Then we have the coaches, the field, the weather, the rules, the ref, and even the fans. All of those factors influence the results of a single game, extrapolate to a whole season, and these factors converge to show which TEAM is the best. This TEAM not only includes the players, but the coaching and administrative staff as well. How can we take the above equation, and find the best variable in it. And it is more complicated when the best variable is not from the best TEAM.

As RWO would surely attest, how is not Valdes the best player in Barcelona? He makes more saves in a match than Messi. In fact, Messi along with CR made no saves in their career. Surely Suarez and Palacio are then better than the pair!

GKs, CBs, FBs, WBs, DMs, CMs, AMs, Box to box Ms, BtBLB, Wingers, SSs, CFs, WFs are all footballers. How in hell can we say which footballer is the best when all of those have different fraking jobs. It is like saying that Cog A is better than Cog B in a clock. We arguably can say that Clock A is better than Clock B, and we arguably can say which similar components are better (IF they use the same type). In most of those positions, its very difficult to say who is the best with a straight face, and other than Messi (who is the best offensive player by a margin) and Maggio (being the only Box to Box left back in the world) the competition is intense (not in defense though, modern defenders suck). On a stretch, we can put the midfielders together and the defenders together. But even though, the glamorous positions will always attract more attention (FBs with CBs, and AMs with DMs) to make the conscious objective very difficult.
Speaking of conscious objective decisions, that is not the case in the B award or in the FIFA 11. Both awards are product of highly biased and/or non-informative people. I highly doubt the captain of Cambodia watched one game which featured Pirlo other than the Euros; and I am being generous.

B…b..b..b…But we can use statistics (ala Castrol) to definitely say who is being effective, right?


NO, put Messi in Saudi Arabia and see how effective he is. Also, many "statistical" evidence is hugely arbitrary and cannot track all the subtleties of football. We are not talking about baseball here.
Take GKs for example, they are all about shots saved and clean sheets right. Another no. There are many duties that GKs do which cannot be accounted for in statistics. For example, how can statistics capture the effectiveness of a GK's defense organization vs. a simply shat defense?

Conclusion:

Personal Awards are shat in this current format, and will only be less shat in RWO suggested format (much less TBH).

The word Best Footballer is ludicrous even in a single era.

However, Messi is obviously the best offensive talent. In my opinion, Ibra is the only one close (CR is good and all but both Ibra and Messi are at another level).

Hence the title of this post:

The Superiority and Inferiority of Messi to Pele:

Put any footballer from the 60s in today's game, and they will be butchered. Even second division teams will have chance against the best teams of the 60. For one thing, half of the defenders will be sent off the older team before half time. It is a fact that football evolved a lot over the years. Rules have changed, the pitch regulations have changed, coaching has changed, even the balls themselves have changed. Pele had to play his early career with a shoe two sizes too big because neither he nor his club could afford buying suitable shoes.

With the evolution of football, it is no surprise that people watch the old days and suddenly declare to the world that Pele is an overrated scrub, and then pepper their declaration with half-truths.

"Pele is an overrated scrub because he did not play in Europe, the defenders were scrubs, is slow and ponderous, and because football then sucked."

First, Brazilian clubs in the 60s were the same level or superior to European clubs. Whomever uses this argument discredits all of his opinions with this exercise in fallacy. For one thing, the greatest European clubs of the day barely had more than one foreign starting eleven player. South Americans did not regularly leave the continent and hence their respective leagues were not diluted. The idea that Pele could not cut it in Europe is ludicrous. Of course, he would have been injured most of the time which brings us to….

Second, many defenders were in fact scrubs, and to compensate would try to break their opponents legs. South Americans invented the dive particularly because of the brutality of European defenders. Of course, in the 60s cards were not used, and players were rarely if ever sent off. Which meant offensive players were literally under the mercy of the oppositions moral compass. Don't come and tell me that a hostile environment were defenders actually attempt to break you is "scrub Defending" because you will be dead wrong.

Third, anyone watching football then would be surprised by the slow and ponderous approach to the game. That was necessary for the three things. Running full speed was not an option due to the conditions of the pitch and the lack of technology in the boots themselves. The ball was heavy, and would generally gain weight due to humidity and/or rain, this made fast paced ball movement and impossibility. Getting your leg broken while running fast is easier than getting it broken while running slow.
Fourth, any player is judged according to his surroundings; which means that every player is judged relative to his time, and to whom he plays against. That the whole of the 60 is thought to be inferior to modern football is not relevant to Pele's rating. He is not rated according to our football; he is rated according to his football.

The change in football makes it impossible to compare players of different generations. However, we can rest assured that if we put all these players in the same generation that we will have orgasms upon orgasms from their play. What is common in them is not the physical attribute of their game, but rather the mental one. All of these players are the epitome of football intelligence. If you take a 13 year old Pele and throw him in La Masia, a Barca team with Pele in its fulcrum would appear. Many don't understand how the modern game changed. Football was not more than a hobby before the 80s when the money seriously began to flow. When that happened, you leave no room for chance. Each club has an army of specialists devoted to get the best of their players. There should be no doubt in any football critic that anyone of the greats—in any position—given the same comprehensive modern treatment would then shine.

The Big Question: Who is better?

If this is indeed your big question, then I have failed in my endeavor so far.

Oh well, I will answer it any way.

Although it is impossible to compare two players of different generations, we can come to a certain conclusion. Based simply on the fact that Pele have always been known to be the BEST football player (which we proven to be a ludicrous and a silly statement) we can assume that he is one hell of a player, all those football critics won't just lie for no reason. Similarly, based on the simple fact that Messi is the first footballer since a lot of time to be seriously compared to Pele and Maradona we can see how special he is. There can't be an answer to the question, especially when preference comes into the equation. These players are as much a product of their environments as are we, and this constant pursuit of an answer to a ludicrous question is an exercise in stupidity. Any true appreciate of the art of football would not stress the question, but would look at how it came to be asked in the first place (and thus appreciate the art of X and Y player).

Yet, FIFA would continue to debase the sport with their awards, and the offensive player will continue to be over glorified. Because it sells. IT brings money to their coffers, and we the bloody idiots who take it and argue about it and swallow it all up are the ones they are fooling with their foolery. Is it not a fraking debasement to the damn sport that Messi is the poster boy for damn KFC.
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Post by Great Leader Sprucenuce Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:33 pm

Spencer :bow:

Will read it later but felt like acknowledging your existence first Smile
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Post by Lord Spencer Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:38 pm

Mole :bow:

I post therefore I am.
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Post by rwo power Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:39 pm

Pelé is certainly inferior when it comes to football predictions :coffee:
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Post by BarrileteCosmico Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:47 pm

Spencer is back cheers

At the core of this however is just the somewhat ridiculous obsession everyone (including myself from time to time) has to rank and compare players. Most times it matters much more how a player fits into a tactical set up than how much better one is relative to the other.
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Post by BarrileteCosmico Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:48 pm

rwo power wrote:Pelé is certainly inferior when it comes to football predictions :coffee:
Pele is a reverse jinx master, do not underestimate him.
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Post by Lord Spencer Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:51 pm

Pele will keep his pedestal forever by Jinxing Brazilian players to oblivion. pirat
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Post by The Sanchez Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:16 am

Tbh, I have never seen week in week it Pele playing fr club therefore I cannot comment but really these two players are both GOATS...
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Post by elitedam Wed Jan 09, 2013 2:46 pm

That's an excellent post. Great job.
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Post by norton Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:56 pm

Put any footballer from the 60s in today's game, and they will be butchered."

While I admire your effort, your basic premise is incorrect, so the rest of your argument falls by the wayside.

In fact, put most attacking players of today (exclude the big boys like Ibra, Luca Toni etc.) in the 60s or 70s or early 80s and he will be butchered, so frankly, the rest of what you write does not follow.

A Messi or a C. Ronaldo would:

1. Not have the chance to exhibit their talent.
2. Would have very short careers should they have tried to exhibit their talents.

To able to succeed as both Pele and Maradona did in the face of such violent defenders and crushing tackles took so much talent that it is difficult to think that an other player at the level of Pele and Maradona will be seen anytime soon.

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Post by RealGunner Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:11 pm

Spencer cheers

Excellent to see you!!! Will now read this post Razz
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Post by Lord Spencer Wed Jan 09, 2013 6:59 pm

norton wrote:Put any footballer from the 60s in today's game, and they will be butchered."

While I admire your effort, your basic premise is incorrect, so the rest of your argument falls by the wayside.

In fact, put most attacking players of today (exclude the big boys like Ibra, Luca Toni etc.) in the 60s or 70s or early 80s and he will be butchered, so frankly, the rest of what you write does not follow.

A Messi or a C. Ronaldo would:

1. Not have the chance to exhibit their talent.
2. Would have very short careers should they have tried to exhibit their talents.

To able to succeed as both Pele and Maradona did in the face of such violent defenders and crushing tackles took so much talent that it is difficult to think that an other player at the level of Pele and Maradona will be seen anytime soon.

First off, that line is not my entire premise, and so IF it is wrong it does not make my whole argument magically irrelevant.

Second, I don't think it is wrong for the following reasons:
Also note, I am talking about throwing these players into the game with no time to learn the new rules or train for the modern game.

1- Defenders of the past will obviously have a hard time in the modern game, and would either be:
a) sent off for hard tackles.
or
b) completely dominated because of their lack of pace.

2- Midfielders simply would not fit with the modern tactics, the are not fit enough to press, and the plastic ball would completely wreck their passing game. Also, having been used to a much slower game, they would be at a disadvantage when tasked to spray the ball for much faster moving players.

3- Offensive player were not as fast or fit as today, and while they will be the least to struggle, they would pressed out of position and space by modern defenders.

Simply put, the increased professionalism of the sport bred highly athletic players. Players who sweat the entire 90 minutes instead of jog. You can't compare the highly medical approach to the game today, with that of the 60s. To see the effects of not being fit look no further than Ronaldinho and Adriano, both superb talents who just couldn't cut it for more than three years.

Also note that I am implying this of Pele and co.; that they are intelligent enough to adapt and excel no matter the era they play at.

Also note that I agree with you regarding Messi and Ronaldinho being transferred to the 60s era. Both would probably get broken expecting the ref to protect them.

I however believe Messi will become in the same bracket of Pele and Maradona.

Also note that Maradona's era was not even nearly as physical as Pele's. Red cards were introduced by then and rough play became dismiss worthy.

Thank you for your reply, and please don't dismiss and entire argument because you did not agree with a part of it.
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Post by Be/\/ceCALI Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:16 pm

Lord Spencer wrote:
Second, many defenders were in fact scrubs, and to compensate would try to break their opponents legs. South Americans invented the dive particularly because of the brutality of European defenders.

That the whole of the 60 is thought to be inferior to modern football is not relevant to Pele's rating. He is not rated according to our football; he is rated according to his football.

The change in football makes it impossible to compare players of different generations. However, we can rest assured that if we put all these players in the same generation that we will have orgasms upon orgasms from their play. What is common in them is not the physical attribute of their game, but rather the mental one. All of these players are the epitome of football intelligence.

First off, great post.

Secondly, do you have a source for the part in blue? I'm not saying you're wrong, but it's hard for me to believe that.

I think the part I bolded really highlights your point, and it's a great point that I agree with. It's impossible to really say who the greatest player(s) ever are. The greatest player ever will always be a subjective topic - but usually it's judged on awards, accomplishments, and CONSISTENCY(which is often overlooked)

All in all, i'll say it again: fantastic post, man Thumbs up
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Post by McAgger Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:20 pm

Spencer :bow: you have been missed my friend. We need more quality posters here. Great to have you back.
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Post by worms Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:26 pm

Pele was just a goalscorer who scored at a time when the goals per game ratio was double what it is now.And his goal record counts bogus goals like goals he scored in the army and against unprofessional teams.

Show me a video of Pele producing passes and showcasing vision like Maradona or even Messi.
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Post by Lord Spencer Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:31 pm

Be/\/ceCALI wrote:
Lord Spencer wrote:
Second, many defenders were in fact scrubs, and to compensate would try to break their opponents legs. South Americans invented the dive particularly because of the brutality of European defenders.

That the whole of the 60 is thought to be inferior to modern football is not relevant to Pele's rating. He is not rated according to our football; he is rated according to his football.

The change in football makes it impossible to compare players of different generations. However, we can rest assured that if we put all these players in the same generation that we will have orgasms upon orgasms from their play. What is common in them is not the physical attribute of their game, but rather the mental one. All of these players are the epitome of football intelligence.

First off, great post.

Secondly, do you have a source for the part in blue? I'm not saying you're wrong, but it's hard for me to believe that.

I think the part I bolded really highlights your point, and it's a great point that I agree with. It's impossible to really say who the greatest player(s) ever are. The greatest player ever will always be a subjective topic - but usually it's judged on awards, accomplishments, and CONSISTENCY(which is often overlooked)

All in all, i'll say it again: fantastic post, man Thumbs up

The blue part really is an opinion, but is one derived from a number of observations which would take too long to account for; mainly:

1- European football was very much inferior to SA football, and that did not change until three things happened IMO:

a) The advent of total football, which is really just a Dutch interpretation to SA (especially Brazillian) football.

b) The German school of ubber athleticism, which imo inspired the professionalization of football.

c) The evolution of Italian tactics, which is inspired by the drubbing against the great 1970 Brazil.

Note: how those three teams became the strongest in Europe in the 70 and 80s.

2-Due to that inferiority ins skill, defenders simply could not handle the much superior SA which lead to the heavy use of dirty tackles, especially when they seldom got punished for it.

3- One particular story presents this, Pele got injured in two WC, where he got beaten so much in his legs that he cried in the field due to pain. Many rumors circulated that European coaches instructed their defenders to injure the opposition players, and Pele was marked as such.

In fact, the treatment was so harsh in 1966 (the controversial year England won their sole WC) that Brazil threatened to leave FIFA if they don't protect their players, and Pele would not have played in 1970 had FIFA not implemented the Red card rule for the first time (although it did not get to see its first use until 1974).
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Post by worms Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:38 pm

I have watched many Pele videos on youtube and the defending(I use the term loosely) was embarrassing and today would be similar to the defending in the Blue Square Premier.Pele weren't the best player in any world cup,he was always overshadowed(Garrincha and Jarzinho).

One of the best strikers ever? Probably.

One of the top 5 players of all time? Not a chance.
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Post by Lord Spencer Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:39 pm

worms wrote:Pele was just a goalscorer who scored at a time when the goals per game ratio was double what it is now.And his goal record counts bogus goals like goals he scored in the army and against unprofessional teams.

Show me a video of Pele producing passes and showcasing vision like Maradona or even Messi.

Sorry, that just plain bull. Pele was more of an SS than a CF, and every team he played in completely revolved around him. He had as much a vision as Cruyff, and his assists record would be more than his score record (which is mostly against Brazillian league teams which were no scrubs) if they recorded them in those days.

Here is a video of such assist, which along with the Pirlo 2006 assist in Germany is considered one of the best WC assists of all time.

CAP's Wondergoal

Notice how he just nonchalantly passes the ball knowing it is going to get to CAP. You don't get that arrogant in the field if you don't have the skills to back it up.
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Post by norton Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:46 pm

While Pele or Maradona would traipse through the defensive marking of today. Messi would have no chance against the defensive marking of Pele's or Maradona's eras. They would be knocked off the ball before they would have a chance to use their skill. Just watch what Gentile did to Maradona during the 1982 WC. Maradona was a bull and Gentile did not let him take a dribble with the ball.

Rules were changed to protect attacking players, that's just a fact. Hence, attacking players had to endure much more duress in the past and have it much easier today.

While both Messi and C. Ronaldo are intelligent and are skilled, it is questionable whether they would have the ability and mental strength to sustain the constant defender aggression which was dominant in past eras, that today would result in yellow and red cards.



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Post by Be/\/ceCALI Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:51 pm

Lord Spencer wrote:The blue part really is an opinion, but is one derived from a number of observations which would take too long to account for

Fair enough.

You also say:

Lord Spencer wrote: 1- European football was very much inferior to SA football, and that did not change until three things happened IMO:

What about before that, in the '50s? When Puskas and Hungary beat both Brazil, and then Uruguay 4-2 on their way to the WC final. I watched the Brazil game and we weren't the only ones who were playing dirty. This is why i questioned your analysis of SA players inventing diving because of violent European defenders. It was a very violent game and even post-game, but that's how the game was back then.. I also don't feel that any SA team at the time was superior to Hungary in the '50s. I'm sure you know this, but we destroyed England 7-1, Italy 3-0 and went 49 games unbeaten until the fluke loss in the WC final. To me this team paved the way with "total football" before Brazil, and the Dutch interpretation like you say.


Last edited by Be//ceCALI on Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:57 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Lord Spencer Wed Jan 09, 2013 7:56 pm

Be/\/ceCALI wrote:
Lord Spencer wrote:The blue part really is an opinion, but is one derived from a number of observations which would take too long to account for

Fair enough.

You also say:

Lord Spencer wrote: 1- European football was very much inferior to SA football, and that did not change until three things happened IMO:

What about before that, in the '50s? When Puskas and Hungary beat both Brazil, and then Uruguay 4-2 on their way to the WC final. I watched the Brazil game and we weren't the only ones who were playing dirty. This is why i questioned your analysis of SA players inventing diving because of violent European defenders. It was a very violent game and even post-game, but that's how the game was back then.. I also don't feel that any SA team at the time was superior to Hungary in the '50s.

In the 50s, it was more of an open field. Brazill began to change rapidly after the 1950 disgrace. And with Brazill developing rapidly, the other SA countries had to keep up. Hungary was the strongest team in its time. But problems in the country kept them from carrying the momentum and building a philosophy.

Note that this all historical analysis, so there are many opinion derived from the same observations.

What we have however, is the common knowledge that the 60s were for the SA to dominate, and the fact that the superstar began to be man marked physicaly. (starting with Puskas)
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Post by Lord Spencer Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:05 pm

norton wrote:While Pele or Maradona would traipse through the defensive marking of today. Messi would have no chance against the defensive marking of Pele's or Maradona's eras. They would be knocked off the ball before they would have a chance to use their skill. Just watch what Gentile did to Maradona during the 1982 WC. Maradona was a bull and Gentile did not let him take a dribble with the ball.

Rules were changed to protect attacking players, that's just a fact. Hence, attacking players had to endure much more duress in the past and have it much easier today.

While both Messi and C. Ronaldo are intelligent and are skilled, it is questionable whether they would have the ability and mental strength to sustain the constant defender aggression which was dominant in past eras, that today would result in yellow and red cards.



The problem with these kinds or arguments is that they are speculative. You have the opinion that they would dance around modern defenders. I have the opinion that due to weaker physical training, they wouldn't be able to keep it up, even if they danced around for the first 45 minutes.

I agree that the modern rules facilitate everything the attacker needs, and I agree that if both those two be trained on the modern game that they will beast it ala Messi (although Maradona would need to fix his attitude because the modern game don't accept it).

These limits to speculation are the reason I am against giving definitive judgment. I am a fan of defending and always prefer midfielders over attackers. My favorite players include only one attacker. It is really difficult to say whom is better, which is why I am strictly against lists and my right back is better than yours debates. These lists and debates DOES nothing but waste time, and limits the game to a mere names and numbers.

I am against saying that Messi will never reach the level of Maradona, just as I am against the opinion that Messi is better than Maradona. Both are the products of their environments, and unless we can isolate something called the talent gene, we can't objectively say whom is better than whom.

Also, this is a team sport, and all the squandering over names and numbers is an insult to the teams we should be watching and appreciating.
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Post by worms Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:09 pm

Lord Spencer wrote:
worms wrote:Pele was just a goalscorer who scored at a time when the goals per game ratio was double what it is now.And his goal record counts bogus goals like goals he scored in the army and against unprofessional teams.

Show me a video of Pele producing passes and showcasing vision like Maradona or even Messi.

Sorry, that just plain bull. Pele was more of an SS than a CF, and every team he played in completely revolved around him. He had as much a vision as Cruyff, and his assists record would be more than his score record (which is mostly against Brazillian league teams which were no scrubs) if they recorded them in those days.

Here is a video of such assist, which along with the Pirlo 2006 assist in Germany is considered one of the best WC assists of all time.

[youtube.com/watch?v=NZkR5Wb2KQs]CAP's Wondergoal[/url]

Notice how he just nonchalantly passes the ball knowing it is going to get to CAP. You don't get that arrogant in the field if you don't have the skills to back it up.

Please don't tell me you are talking about the assist that led to Alberto Carlos's goal.If you call a simple 5 yard pass a great assist then :facepalm:
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Post by Be/\/ceCALI Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:11 pm

I edited by above post a little bit just to add a few things. I agree that after the '50s, it was all downhill for us (mainly because of the soviet takeover and the big issues that it brought) and uphill for Brazil in football development.

I also agree with you that '60s were dominated by SA. The only thing I didn't agree with is : "a) The advent of total football, which is really just a Dutch interpretation to SA (especially Brazillian) football."

I think Hungary of the '50s was the original "total football" team and layed this foundation down for the future, where it evolved further. If you've watched this team play you might agree. Maybe you have seen them, i don't know. I've watched Brazil of the late 60's and 1970, my grandpa had all the tapes Smile
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Post by Be/\/ceCALI Wed Jan 09, 2013 8:15 pm

norton wrote:While Pele or Maradona would traipse through the defensive marking of today. Messi would have no chance against the defensive marking of Pele's or Maradona's eras. They would be knocked off the ball before they would have a chance to use their skill. Just watch what Gentile did to Maradona during the 1982 WC. Maradona was a bull and Gentile did not let him take a dribble with the ball.

Rules were changed to protect attacking players, that's just a fact. Hence, attacking players had to endure much more duress in the past and have it much easier today.

While both Messi and C. Ronaldo are intelligent and are skilled, it is questionable whether they would have the ability and mental strength to sustain the constant defender aggression which was dominant in past eras, that today would result in yellow and red cards.

I don't get how you can say Pele or Maradona would destroy today's defenders, then go on to say Messi and C.Ronaldo would be useless. Maybe this would be true if you just threw them into a one-off game with great defenders of the past, but if they played in that era, they would also adapt to differences of the game back then, like all great players of the game would.

Like Spencer said, it's really the brain that gives the BEST players the advantage over the great players.
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