Much is expected from the host nation. From within and outside of the country. They are many people’s favourites to land their sixth crown this time around and their first since 2002.
Their coach back then Luiz Felipe Scolari was appointed Brazil’s boss for this World Cup back in November 2012 and has overseen a transformation in attacking football which has brought renewed optimism to the South Americans.
It was the Confederations Cup Final victory over Spain which further fuelled talk that this Brazilian team could be something special. They destroyed the current European and World Champions 3-0 with a display of pace, power and finishing which will strike fear into fellow Group A opponents.
Scolari has layed down his expectations to his squad. Winning the World Cup is their ultimate goal. Nothing else will do: “There is no other objective that we’re interested in, so we need to state it: we’re at home, the conditions are in our favour, we’re going to win.”
The expectation and pressure on Brazil to succeed is so great that failure doesn’t even bare thinking about. They boast a team full of attacking purpose and possess some of the greatest players on the planet.
In Thiago Silva they boast one of the best centre-backs in world football. His partnership with David Luiz will be crucial to any success this summer. In midfield they possess pace, power and lots of creativity.
Chelsea midfielder Oscar and Willian and Tottenham Hotspur’s Paulinho are now experienced international players and will be crucial to the host nation.
It is up front however that the real excitement is. In Hulk and Neymar Brazil boast two of the best forward world football has to offer.
Neymar had an indifferent season with club side Barcelona however whenever he has lined up in a Brazilian shirt, he has lit up the stadium. Hulk has scored 23 goals in 42 appearances for Zenit St Petersburg and his power and strength will be a threat to all defences.
A crucial element that has been forged in this Brazilian team is their identity which they now possess. They have a settled starting line-up, know each others games inside-out, and can mix up their play whenever it is required.
Aside from the pressure which could affect the mindsets of the players there are two problems which the Brazilians will have to overcome.
The failure of the 1950 World Cup team will be fresh in their minds this time around. Back then, in front of a home crowd, they were expected to win convincingly against Uruguay in the final. However they lost 2-1. It shocked world football. It set Brazilian football back. They don’t want a repeat this time around.
Aside from a friendly against England last summer the Brazilian have rarely found themselves chasing a game. In the Confederations Cup not once did they trail. If they go behind this summer could they overcome the deficit?
I think Brazil have real chances of winning the World Cup, as was shown by their performances in the Confederations Cup, especially the game against Spain. Brazil have got their confidence back and the people saw the spirit in which they approached the competition, with lots of unity, and no vanity.”
Juninho Paulista, former international.
Route to the finals: Qualified as hosts
Preferred formation: 4-2-3-1
Key man: Neymar