The Newsroom reviews each team in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Team: Brazil.
From the apartments on the beach to the slums on the hills, football conquers all. From São Paulo to Manaus, a whole country waits in anticipation. And the games are in their backyard.
To the sporting fanatic, the mere name Brazil conjures vivid imagery of football mastery. As hosts of the tournament and winners of last year’s Confederations Cup, it is difficult to look past the Selecao to lift the trophy on July 14. No country’s sporting identity and history are so deeply intertwined with a single tournament as Brazil and the World Cup.
Pooled alongside Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon in Group A, Brazil will look to use their youthful talent to stroll through the group stage and stamp their mark on the 20th Cup.
FIFA World Ranking: 3rd
Strengths: If there is a weak link in the Brazilian squad the rest of the team covers for it with incredible aplomb. Depth and unprecedented talent lie in every position across the pitch, with the exclusion of ageing stars Kaka, Robinho and Ronaldinho an eye-opener as to the wealth of talent at disposal for the Selecao.
Weaknesses: Expectation, plain and simple. Brazil are by far and away the favourites to be crowned champions, and with big name players like Neymar, Thiago Silva and Paulinho, it is hard to argue. With the tournament supposedly Brazil’s to lose, does the pressure weigh too heavily on the squad’s youthful shoulders?
Key player: At only 22 years, it is fair to say the hopes of a nation rest on the back of Neymar in his number 10 jersey. Neymar proved he is ready for the top echelon of football when he moved to FC Barcelona last summer. After a commanding Confederations Cup campaign, he is widely considered ready to lead Brazil to the title.
Manager: After bringing home the World Cup in 2002, Luiz Felipe Scolari cemented his place in Brazilian national folklore. Though he failed at Chelsea and Portugal, he is certainly capable of bringing Cup glory back home. A hardly unanimous choice when re-appointed in 2012, Scolari is liked by the players and has turned the team back into a footballing powerhouse.
Prediction: I fear Brazil may cave under the weight of expectation, despite the strength of their team, and be eliminated at the semi-final stage at the hands of Germany. – Patrick Boddan