There is a lot of expectation on Brazil this summer, both from within their own country and around the globe. This level of expectation will always be on the host nation, but Brazil have the quality to live up to the hype, the only question is if they are mentally strong enough to deal with it. They will have an advantage over the other 31 nations, in particular sides from other continents as they will be used to the conditions and the stadiums will be filled with their fans. This will give Brazil an extra 10% in matches to push on for the win, but they are far from certain to win the competition.
Last summer, Brazil showed they could perform in a tournament as they won the Confederations Cup, beating World champions Spain 3-0 in the final. Their emphatic victory over Spain suggested that they could run away with the World Cup this summer, but in the friendlies this year, they haven’t been that great, while Neymar’s move to Barcelona has seen his form stutter. The forward is the focal point for Brazil and is relied upon to produce moments of magic, they will need him to be on the best of form this summer, or Brazil will falter on home ground.
The squad was announced last week and several big name players were left out, but this highlights the talent pool that Luiz Felipe Scolari has available to him. The likes of Robinho, Kaka and Ronaldinho were left out and both are legends in Brazilian legends. While Miranda, Philippe Coutinho, Lucas Leiva and most incredibly Lucas Moura were all left out of the squad. The latter was once ranked alongside Neymar as the great hope of Brazilian football, but the amount of competition at PSG has seen him fall down the national pecking order.
They have been drawn in a what should be a comfortable group alongside Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon. Every side in the tournament can win any match, but Brazil shouldn’t have too much trouble overcoming these three, especially the Mexico and Cameroon, who both struggled in qualifying. Their opening match against Croatia could prove to be a banana skin and the hosts may be happy with a draw, but the fans will be demanding they get off to a winning start.
Brazil are full of technical ability and they are renowned for the skill within their side. Under Scolari, they are very disciplined and have a strong defence, which is unusual for a Brazil side. Their back five will be crucial this summer, as they are perhaps lacking the attacking ability that they possessed at previous World Cups. Thiago Silva is one of the best defenders in the world, therefore the captain will be vital this summer as he attempts to lift the World Cup on home soil. His positioning and reading of the game are exceptional, which will make it difficult for other sides to breach the back four, while his partner David Luiz is very assured on the ball and he can be used to carry the ball out of defence. If sides do get in behind Brazil, they will still need to get past Julio Cesar, who remains a brilliant shot stopper, despite having a disappointing season domestically.
The pivot in midfield will be crucial in turning defence into attack. It is likely to be Ramires, Paulinho and Fernandinho competing for two spots, with all three offering different options. Ramires will provide lots of energy and ability in both halves of the pitch. Paulinho will bring more power to the side, while Fernandinho will operate in front of the back four, providing even more defensive protection. On form, it should be Ramires and Fernandinho starting against Croatia, but Scolari likes Paulinho a lot, so he could start this summer.
The hosts also possess two of the finest full backs in the sport at the moment. Daniel Alves and Marcelo have become cornerstones for the leading two clubs in Spain and will be relishing the opportunity to light up the World Cup. Although neither are the best defenders, they are fine attacking full backs and with the strong defensive base in the centre of the park, they will be given license to attack and create chances for the attackers.
As one of the favourites for the competition, Brazil have few weaknesses, which given the strength of their talent pool is unsurprising. They do lack a quality striker to lead the line, especially after Diego Costa snubbed his country of birth to play for Spain this summer. Scolari is probably going to opt for Fred to lead the line, who is a decent operator, but he lacks the quality of some of the world class strikers that will be in Brazil this summer. He is also a player who likes to feed off crosses, which could mean Brazil move away from their normal attractive football to a more robust style to accommodate Fred.
Luiz Felipe Scolari is one of the finest national coaches in the modern game. In his previous spell in charge of Brazil, he won the 2002 World Cup and that achievement played a big part in him replacing Mano Menezes in 2012. The opportunity to lead his country in a home World Cup offers him the opportunity to secure his legacy as a Brazilian legend. His sides are disciplined and are normally very tough to break down, with defensive solidarity being the focal point of his coaching philosophy. During the 2002 World Cup, he had excellent attacking players such as Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho, which led to Brazil being more expressive, but this summer, the emphasis will definitely be on the back four.
World Cup History
Brazil are the most decorated nation when it comes to the World Cup winning the tournament on five occasions, the last coming in 2002. They are the only side to have played at every World Cup in history, but they have underwhelmed in the last two tournaments, only getting to the quarter finals on both occasions. To check their odds and follow all the World Cup betting news, visit paddypower.com
It is clear that everybody in Brazil sees Neymar as the key man and him wearing the number ten shirt only confirms that Scolari sees him in the same light. The youngster lit up the Confederations Cup last summer and everybody will be hoping to see him do the same on the big stage this summer. At the age of 22, this World Cup may be too early for Neymar to show his best football, but he has the ability to lead his nation to glory on home soil. Neymar is a fantastic dribbler and his position on the left will allow him to go either down the wing, or inside into the box, which will make him especially difficult to defend against. He has had a tough opening season at Barcelona, but he has the opportunity to secure his place as one of the world’s best players this summer.
Brazil are one of the favourites this summer and on home soil they have an extraordinary chance of winning the World Cup, but their lack of a quality striker may be their Achilles heel this summer. Also they may regret leaving Lucas Moura out of the squad, who would have brought more attacking quality to the squad. Although Willian and Oscar are decent players, they have shown domestically that they can struggle to break sides down and that may leave Brazil relying too much on Neymar
Prediction: Semi Finals