May 30, 2014, 11:10 AM EDT
Getting to know… Brazil: The Selecao are the most successful nation in the history of the World Cup and have won five titles, more than any other country. With that success comes great expectation and Brazil haven’t won a title since 2002. Hosting the tournament in their soccer mad nation will create an incredible buzz and the players most channel the huge level of support positively. Samba, soccer and sunshine. This World Cup has the potential to be the best tournament in history and Brazil expects their team to win it al.
Record in qualifying: Qualified automatically as hosts.
What group are they in? Brazil are in Group A along with Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon in quite a favorable group for the hosts. If they don’t finish top of the group then serious questions will be asked. If they do make it out of the group they will likely face Spain or the Netherlands in the round of 16. That won’t be easy, even with home advantage.
Game schedule: Group A
12 June, 16:00, Sao Paulo – Brazil vs. Croatia
17 June, 15:00, Fortaleza – Brazil vs. Mexico
23 June, 16:00, Brasilia – Brazil vs. Cameroon
Star player: Neymar
Barcelona’s forward took the Confederations Cup by storm last summer and will be the leading light for Brazil. His incredible wing play bamboozle opposition defenders and his slight frame makes it seem as though the former Santos star glides across the surface. He has had an injury-hit first season at the Nou Camp which has been riddled with accusations of wrong doing surrounding his transfer to Spain. That said, he always seems to turn it on for Selecao after scoring 30 goals in 47 games for his country. Just 22, this guy could be the face of the entire tournament, let alone the Brazilian national team.
Manager: Luis Felipe Scolari
Scolari is in his second stint as boss of the Brazilian national team, uring his last spell in charge he led Brazil to win the ’02 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. Stints at the Portuguese national manager and in charge of Chelsea didn’t go quite as he would’ve liked and it seems as though he’s at home as the manager of Brazil. Scolari is a leader, a hero and a legend in Brazil. The players respect ‘Big Phil’ and you get the sense that the national team is one big happy family right now. If things go pear shaped early on, expect that to change drastically. An advocate of attacking soccer, Scolari’s side gave a glimpse of what we can expect by winning the Confederations Cup at a canter last summer.
Secret weapon: The fans
Okay, not so much of a secret… but Brazil will have an incredible advantage over their opponents due to the magnificent support they will have. ‘The 12th man’ will play a huge role if Scolari’s side are to succeed in winning a sixth World Cup and adding another star above the crest on their jerseys.
Prediction: Brazil will make a deep run in this World Cup. Many have them winning it and it’s hard to argue with that assessment. After the group stage their toughest test could come in the last 16 when they may face Holland or Spain. If they make it through that, the confidence of Scolari’s young team which includes Neymar, Oscar and Willian will soar.
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