After winning the 2002 World Cup that took place at Korea and Japan, Brazil’s performances at the most important football competition in the world have left something to be desired. Back in 2006 at the Germany World Cup, Brazil ended up in the 5th place and four years later, at South Africa, the Canarinha managed to do even worse by ending at the 6th place of the tournament.
When Luiz Felipe Scolari replaced Mano Menezes back in November 2012, some doubts came forward concerning his ability to lead the Brazilian National Team, after some unconvincing stints at Chelsea, FC Bunyodkor and Palmeiras. Nevertheless, and after a slow start, during which he didn’t manage to find a tactical system that could meet the team’s best needs and attributes, Scolari managed to bounce back by implementing a versatile 4-4-2 system that can be easily transformed into a 4-2-2-2 style with two midfield lines close to each other and two very active wing backs on the team’s attacking movements. This dramatic change proved to be extremely effective and his team won the Confederations Cup last year by beating the all-powerful Spain 3-0 in the final.
Brazil were placed in Group A of the World Cup, alongside with Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon. There aren’t many doubts that Brazil are firm favourites to win the group and even to reach the final, especially if one considers that, apart from the quality of their players, they will also be able to rely on the massive support from their fans, since they are playing at home. Their opponents, although, will surely have a word to say on this equation, and all of them have high hopes of proceeding to the next stage of the tournament. Mexico, for instance, have been far from their best during the qualifying stage, as they were forced to play against New Zealand on a two match play-off in order to grant their ticket to Brazil. Although, the arrival of a new demanding head coach - Miguel Herrera - to the helm of the team has inspired Mexico and they will certainly pose a serious threat to Brazil’s dominance.
In order to prepare the World Cup adequately, Brazil will still measure forces with Panama and Serbia before the tournament, two opponents that CBF believe to have similar game style to the ones of Croatia and Cameroon.
If we are to judge the Canarinha’s performances back in the Confederations Cup, Brazil have everything they need to walk through to the next stage without any major problems; nevertheless, if the team fails to replicate such quality performances, they might, in fact, be faced with some unexpected difficulties to claim the first place of their group.
12 June 2014: Brazil 2 Croatia 1 Best odds 1.30 @ Paddy Power
18 June 2014: Brazil 1 Mexico 1 Best odds 1.30 @ Ladbrokes
23 June 2014: Cameroon 0 Brazil 2 Best Odds 1.20 @ William Hill
Goalkeepers: Júlio César, Jefferson, Victor
Defenders: Dani Alves, Maicon, Marcelo, Maxwell, Thiago Silva, Dante, David Luiz, Henrique
Midfielders: Luiz Gustavo, Ramires, Paulinho, Fernandinho, Oscar, Willian, Hernanes
Forwards: Neymar, Bernard, Fred, Hulk, Jo Alves