Despite the ongoing civil unrest among the population and daily protests staged around the country against the government’s tunnel vision for hosting the World Cup, the Selecao are eagerly anticipating the chance to erase the everlasting memories of “Maracanzo” (the Maracana blow). It’s been 64 years, yet that infamous night (defeated 2-1 by Uruguay at the 1950 World Cup) has forever lingered in the hearts and minds of all Brazilians, a national day of mourning. The stage is set, but will they be the ones walking away victorious this summer? Last year’s Confederation Cup triumph gave a glimpse into the determination from the team.
Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Toronto FC), Jefferson (Botafogo), Victor (Atletico Mineiro)
Defenders: Marcelo (Real Madrid), Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Maicon (AS Roma), Maxwell (Paris St Germain), Thiago Silva (Paris St Germain), David Luiz (Paris Saint-Germain), Dante (Bayern Munich), Henrique (Napoli)
Midfielders: Paulinho (Tottenham Hotspur), Ramires (Chelsea), Willian (Chelsea), Oscar (Chelsea), Hernanes (Inter Milan), Luiz Gustavo (VfL Wolfsburg), Fernandinho (Manchester City)
Forwards: Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk), Neymar (Barcelona), Fred (Fluminense), Jo (Atletico Mineiro), Hulk (Zenit St Petersburg)
After leading Brazil to its fifth World Cup in 2002, Luis Felipe Scolari is aiming to repeat the trick 12 years later. The 65-year old replaced the unpopular Mano Menezes in 2012 and won the Confederations Cup in style a few months later.
4-2-3-1: (GK) Cesar – (D) Alves, Silva, Luiz, Marceloa – (M) Paulinho, Gustavo, Oscar, Neymar, Hulk – (F) Fred
Group A schedule
June 12: vs. Croatia in Sao Paulo
June 17: vs. Mexico in Fortaleza
June 23: vs. Cameroon in Brasilia
How they qualified
They didn’t. On Oct. 30, 2007, FIFA president Sepp Blatter confirmed Brazil’s entry by awarding them the 2014 World Cup.
Brazil possesses excellent depth in the spine of their team. Two of Paulinho, Luis Gustavo, Ramires, and Fernandinho will line up behind Oscar in midfield. Also, captain Thiago Silva will be partnered by either Dante or David Luiz in the centre of defence. The five-time champions are a capable collective with incredible depth. Plus, they’ll have the home crowds on their side.
Fred and Jo have done admirable jobs down the middle but Brazil lack a truly top-class striker. Neymar and Hulk aren’t natural, touchline-hugging wingers, as both like to cut inside on their favoured feet.
Players to watch
Neymar: The undisputed top dog of this team, Neymar carries the hopes of the host nation on his shoulders. He was the best player at the 2013 Confederations Cup. Can he go one better?
Oscar: The understated playmaker is central to Scolari’s tactical plan. Oscar is excellent at finding space and making the right runs to create space for Neymar. He also does his fair share of tracking back.
Julio Cesar: Eyebrows were raised when Cesar joined Toronto FC on loan but he wasn’t getting game time at QPR. Can half a season in MLS prepare him to face the world’s best?
Who will start up front? Fred has only just returned from a long-term injury while Jo and Bernard aren’t going to set the world alight. It looks to be the Fred’s spot to lose but the lack of a truly top-class striker could hinder Brazil in the later rounds.
Prospects in Brazil
Brazil should advance from a group containing Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon with relative ease and anything less than a first-place finish would be disappointing. The chance to come across the likes of Uruguay, Chile, Netherlands, England or Germany before the final won’t scare the host nation. The beauty of Brazil is that they will always be confident of getting a result – in style. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Brazil win a sixth World Cup.
World Cup history
Brazil is the most successful team in the history of the World Cup having taken part in every tournament. The five-time winners have scored the most goals and recorded the most wins in the competition. Brazil has won the showpiece event in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002. The class of 1970, led by Pele and Jairzinho, is seen as arguably the best team of all time.
• 1930—First round
• 1934—First round
• 1938—Semifinals (third place)
• 1958— CHAMPIONS
• 1962— CHAMPIONS
• 1966—First round
• 1970— CHAMPIONS
• 1974—Fourth place
• 1978—Third place
• 1990—Second round
• 2002— CHAMPIONS
Algeria || Argentina || Australia || Belgium || Bosnia and Herzegovina || Brazil || Cameroon || Chile || Colombia || Costa Rica || Croatia || Ecuador || England || France || Germany || Ghana || Greece || Holland || Honduras || Iran || Italy || Ivory Coast || Japan || Mexico || Nigeria || Portugal || Russia || South Korea || Spain || Switzerland || Uruguay || United States