Brazil's streak vs. Colombia at stake
Brazil first drew with Colombia in February 1977, and the result led to the sacking of coach Osvaldo Brandao. It was the opening game of the World Cup qualifiers. Brandao fell back into his dispute with the top brass of the CBD and announced his departure 10 days later.
There have been 14 wins, five draws and only two defeats for Brazil in 21 encounters. The first defeat, a 1-0 decision in Bogota in 1985, was seen as humiliating, but it shouldn't have been. Colombia were strong back then. Evaristo de Macedo was in his fifth and penultimate game as coach of the Selecao. Tele Santana was commentating on the game for SBT, and 10 days later he once again took over the reins of the Selecao.
The second and most recent defeat was in the first round of the 1991 Copa America, a 2-0 loss in Vina del Mar, Chile, courtesy of goals from Antony de Avila and Arnoldo Iguaran. Freddy Rincon and Carlos Valderrama both played. The result meant that the Selecao, led by Paulo Roberto Falcao, needed to beat Ecuador by two goals in order to qualify for the quadrangular final of the Copa America.
Luis Henrique scored the crucial goal in the final minute. Brazil met the Colombians again in the quadrangular and this time won 2-0, thanks to a goal from Renato Gaucho and a penalty from Branco. They finished runners-up, but this didn't prevent Falcao from being sacked. As the only defeat in that campaign was against Colombia, it's fair to say that once again, that result was the key reason.
Brazil haven't lost to Colombia in 23 years. But they haven't won in 12, since Kaka's goal and the 2-1 win in Barranquilla, in the first round of the 2003 qualifiers. Since then, there have been four games and four draws: 0-0 in Bogota, Maceio and Maracana, and 1-1 in New Jersey in 2012, a game in which Neymar missed a penalty and Colombia's Juan Cuadrado and James Rodriguez were the best players on the pitch, which could be the case again on Friday.
Paulo Vinicius Coelho ("PVC") is a veteran Brazilian sports journalist who has covered four World Cups and five Champions League finals. He is a football specialist, ESPN commentator in Brazil and columnist for Folha de S. Paulo, a popular Brazilian daily. He has written six books, including "Bola Fora," a history of the exodus of Brazilian players. Follow him on Twitter @pvcespn.