The fourth goal scored by Brazil against Italy in the 1970 FIFA World Cup Final is held to be one of the finest team goals ever scored in the competition’s history.

Part of the build-up to the goal involves an extraordinarily beautiful feint, under pressure, by Brazil’s defensive mid-fielder – Clodoaldo.

It’s around minute forty-one of the second half and Clodoaldo receives the ball from Brito. As the ball travels towards Clodoaldo, he conscientiously checks behind to asses the situation. He sees Pelé is free. Clodoaldo knows he has time on the ball and so performs a gentle lay-off.

Pelé passes to Gérson.

Gérson shapes to pass back to Clodoaldo but Rivera reads Gérson and immediately starts running towards Clodoaldo.

Clodoaldo, head down, waits for Gérson’s ball to arrive – knowing Rivera is running in.

Clodoaldo’s first touch isn’t good. He doesn’t kill the ball from Gérson. It bobbles. So, with Rivera almost on him, Clodoaldo prods the ball away – enough to move him and the ball out of Rivera’s bodily momentum. Clodoaldo skips to avoid any late tackle. 1st Italian player is number 14, Gianni Rivera (sub. on at ’84). Fresh legs. Rivera chooses not to pressurise Clodoaldo.

[Competent, if unspectacular.]

Now, Clodoaldo is in a tight situation. He’s pushed the ball out farther than is comfortable. But Clodoaldo instantly judges the next Italian’s bodily direction. He sticks his leg out to give the rolling ball the deftest of touches, taking the ball away from Domenghini’s lunge. Clodoaldo again skips to avoid any potential late tackle. 2nd Italian player is number 13, Angelo Domenghini (on from the starting kick-off). Old legs. Domenghini chooses not to pressurise Clodoaldo.

[Clodoaldo’s judgement, touch and skip out of a potential tackle are all good. Possibly, very good.]

But now, Clodoaldo is in a very tight situation. There’s not much space in front of him. He doesn’t know what the two previous beaten players are up to (he hasn’t had the time to look behind).

He’s now faced with dealing with a third Italian player in as many seconds. Clodoaldo knew a third player would need to be dealt with as he took on Domenghini.

The Italian is Giancarlo De Sisti. Let’s hear about De Sisti. “A creative and technically gifted deep-lying playmaking midfielder, who is regarded as one of Italy’s and Roma’s greatest ever playmakers, De Sisti was known for his simple yet efficient style of play; this involved him constantly looking for spaces, playing many short and accurate passes on the ground, and taking very few touches of the ball, in order to retain possession, reduce the chance of errors, and set his team’s tempo. He was known for his composure under pressure and his consistency, and rarely misplaced passes or lost possession. He was also gifted with excellent vision and long passing ability, which allowed him to create goal scoring opportunities and play accurate lobbed passes and through-balls to team-mates.” – [2].

De Sisti is a gifted player; a reader of open-play and other players.

Clodoaldo has less than a second to decide what he’s going to do about De Sisti. Head down, Clodoaldo chooses retention (rather than offloading to a nearby Gérson).

But, this time, there is no space for the ball to be simply pushed on.

So Clodoaldo decides to get rid of De Sisti by ‘selling’ De Sisti a ‘dummy’.

A gamble because De Sisti is an anticipator of play. 3rd Italian player is number 16, Giancarlo De Sisti (on from the starting kick-off). Old legs.

[An under-pressure Clodoaldo evades two tackles resulting in poor ball-space outcomes but, prior to the third tackle, decides enough is enough and chooses retention by close-control. At this point, we can see it in one of two ways:

#1, An Italian buys the dummy.

#2, It was by no means inevitable that a player of De Sisti’s gift would buy Clodoaldo’s extraordinarily beautiful feint; rendering this split-second piece of performance art the most significant artist-on-artist exchange in FIFA World Cup history. If we interpret Clodoaldo’s feint by another art form (ballet); we might see a kind of ‘grounded half-Fouetté’ – and then we glimpse just how critically important this beautiful one half second interchange is.]

(For completeness, Clodoaldo keeps the ball (crab-like) away from a 4th Italian player number 18, Antonio Juliano (sub. on at ’75)). Fresh legs.

[Competent, if unspectacular.] 

A final word. Clodoaldo has his socks rolled down. This is the player elite.