Given that their paths have crossed seven times in the finals of the World Cup since they first met in Bordeaux in 1938, any match between Sweden and Brazil comes with a sense of history.
Brazil's 5-2 defeat of the hosts in the Stockholm final of 1958, the year in which Pele introduced himself to an awestruck world, began a celebrated odyssey in which last summer's triumph over Italy at the conclusion of USA '94, giving them the trophy for a record fourth time, was preceded by another win over the Swedes, in the semi-finals.
The renewal of their rivalry at Villa Park tomorrow, in the second match of the Umbro Cup, is more likely to conjure visions of the future than of the past, particularly from the Brazilian point of view.
Much has changed in the 11 months since the decisive penalty shoot-out in Pasadena. Carlos Alberto Parreira, the winning coach, has given way to veteran Mario Zagalo, architect of the 1970 victory, and of the team which started last year's final only four players - Jorginho, Aldair, Dunga and Zinho - are likely to be in action tomorrow.
Some are missing through extenuating circumstances. The midfielder Mauro Silva is injured and the defender Marcio Santos on tour with Fiorentina.
Bebeto will miss Brazil's first game at least. The striker's club, Deportivo La Coruna, claimed that Brazilian officials missed the 14-day deadline when asking for his release. La Coruna play Real Madrid tonight in a match which may decide the Spanish championship, and Fifa yesterday ruled that he was to be released from the national squad to play for Coruna who will remain in contention for the championship if they beat Real. If Coruna lose, Fifa may decide that Bebeto can play in Brazil's second match against England at Wembley on 11 June.
Marcio Santos may arrive next week. But others, such as Taffarel, the goalkeeper, Branco and Mazinho, are seen to have had their time. Romario recently underwent knee surgery but, after falling out with Zagalo, probably would not have come.
So there will be young and unfamiliar faces on display, although not all of those Zagalo wanted to bring. Several clubs at home have not released players because of domestic commitments, leaving Zagalo resigned to "trying to mix the old and the new together", as he has been reluctantly forced to do in recent games. Even so, the unbeaten record Brazil maintained through 1994 has been preserved in five games this year.
"Brazilian football is in transition," Zagalo said. While the 1998 World Cup finals in France remain Zagalo's primary objective he has the Olympic tournament in Atlanta next year as an intermediate target.
The Umbro Cup is unlikely to advance his thinking much, although there are players for whom it may prove significant. Ronaldo, the pounds 4m 18-year- old from PSV Eindhoven, trumpeted as the new Pele but kept under wraps at USA '94, will win his seventh cap tomorrow and both he and the highly- regarded Juninho, Sao Paulo's 22-year-old playmaker, will find themselves under close scrutiny.
Sweden's fortunes have dipped considerably since finishing third last summer, and after losing half of their six group matches so far they are in danger of failing to qualify for Euro '96. They met Iceland in Stockholm on Thursday but managed only a 1-1 draw, and now trail joint leaders Turkey and Switzerland by four points with only two games left.
"Last summer we benefited from having four or five weeks together before the World Cup, but the side has not been settled since then," Hans Hultman, the Swedish spokesman, said, citing injuries and other circumstances as factors. "Kennet Andersson, for example, has suffered through playing for a side, Caen, which has been relegated in France, and Jonas Thern has not been a regular for Roma."
Tomas Brolin, who made his first international appearance against Iceland since breaking a foot last November, has returned to Parma to prepare for the Italian Cup final.
Everton's Anders Limpar suffered a hamstring injury on Thursday but neither he nor Arsenal's Stefan Schwarz had been named in the squad on the grounds of needing a rest following the English season.
BRAZIL (probable) (4-1-2-1-2): Zetti (Sao Paulo); Jorginho (Kashima Antlers), Aldair (Roma), Ronaldao (Shimizu S-Pulse), Roberto Carlos (Palmeiras); Cesar Sampaio (Yokohama Flugels); Dunga (VfB Stuttgart), Zinho (Yokohama Flugels); Juninho (Sao Paulo); Edmundo (Flamengo), Ronaldo (PSV Eindhoven).
SWEDEN (from): Ravelli (IFK Gothenburg), B Andersson (Orgryte), Hedman (AIK Solna); R Nilsson (Helsingborgs), P Andersson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Bjorklund (IFK Gothenburg), Ljung (MSV Duisburg), M Nilsson (IFK Gothenburg), Kamark (IFK Gothenburg), Lucic (Vastra Frolunda), Eriksson (AIK Solna), Larsson (Feyenoord), Mild (Servette), Thern (Roma), Dahlin (Borussia Monchengladbach), K Andersson (Caen), Alexandersson (Halmstads), O Andersson (AIK Solna), Gudmundsson (Halmstads), Erlingmark (IFK Gothenburg), Lidman (AIK Solna).Reuse content