After the artisans, the artists. It was not just the unseasonable chill that was dispelled by Brazil's footballers at Villa Park yesterday. The depressing memory of England's stumbling display at Wembley on Saturday was cast aside too.
The world champions, though rarely extended by an unambitious Swedish side, offered the watching England coach, Terry Venables, a vivid indication of how far his side will have to improve to match the best.
Brazil scored only once, through Edmundo after 42 minutes, but they were always in control and frequently delighted with their skills and spirit. It took just three minutes for them to show that, though this was the same sport as seen at Wembley, it was a different game.
Juninho had already run on to a flicked pass to force a sharp save from Bengt Andersson when Brazil won a throw-in on the left. As Sweden's defenders, doing a very passable impression of Englishmen, stood immobile, Edmundo darted into space behind them to start another attack.
How England had cried out for such movement on Saturday. Like England's, this was an experimental side. Brazil were weakend by injury and absence and were playing an unfamiliar system. That is where the resemblance ended. Wheras England left Wembley with boos ringing in their ears, Brazil finished the game to oles.
It was not all samba and romance. The game was played in a low-key atmosphere and suffered several periods of midfield stalemate. But there was always the feeling that Brazil were capable of exploding into another slickly worked attack.
Juninho, a frail-looking 22-year-old starting his fifth internaitonal, was the game's most creative influence. He, a teenage Ronaldo, Edmundo and Robert Carlos all glittered in the gloom. Yet none was in the winning World Cup team last summer.
Brazil's goal came from a typically incisive break. Zinho burst through midfield before feeding the busy Roberto Carlos, who drew Andersson before squaring for Edmundo to tap the ball in. Zhino and Juninho missed further chances and Juninho, in a captivating moment, dribbled around three tackles but had his shot blocked.
All Sweden offered was a clattering tackle from behind from Martin Dahlin which put Cesar Sampio out of the game. Dahlin and Aldair, who took great exception to the tackle, were both booked and Dahlin was swiftly withdrawn by Tommy Svensson, the Swedish manager. Brazil deserved more goals, but Ronaldo's 85th minute header against the post from Juninho's chipped cross was as close as they came.
Last week the England squad was apparently absorbed in a video in which Carlos Alberto Parreira described how he planned Brazil's World Cup success. One hopes that when the team meet up at Leeds tonight, Venables will have another tape, of this match, to show them what they should be aspiring to achieve.
BRAZIL: Zetti (Sao Paulo); Cesar Sampaio (Yokohama Flugels), Ronaldao (Shimizu S-Pulse), Aldair (Roma), Jorginho (Kashima Antlers), Dunga (Stuttgart), Juninho (Sao Paulo), Zinho (Yokohama Flugels), Roberto Carlos (Palmeiras), Edmundo (Flamengo), Ronaldo (PSV Eindhoven). Substitute: Andre Cruz (Napoli) for Cesar Sampaio, 77.
SWEDEN: B Andersson (Orgryte); Kamark (IFK Gothenburg), Lucic (Vastra Frolunda), Bjorklund (IFK Gothenburg), Ljung (MSV Duisburg); Alexandersson (Halmstadt), Thern (Roma), Mild (Servette), Erlingmark (IFK Gothenburg), K Andersson (Caen), Dahlin Borussia Monchengladbach). Substitutes: Gudmundsson (Halmstadts) for Thern, h/t; Larsson (Feyenoord) for K Andersson, 57; Lidman (Solna) for Dahlin, 78.
Referee: D Jol (Netherlands)Reuse content