The third team in this preview series is none other than the host and top favourite Brazil. Having already won the trophy five times, the last time in 2002, do the Divine Canaries have what it takes to add a sixth star to their jersey?
Felipe Scolari’s side is one of the best, most well-rounded teams of the competition, if not the best even. With both younger and older players, who have all garnered international experience and success by winning the Confederations Cup last year, with a tremendous amount of quality in attack, as well as in midfield and defence, and the thirst for glory and the will to succeed ignited in their hearts and minds, Brazil is set to take this tournament by storm.
It is one thing for a national squad to consist of a gathering of talented individuals, it is an entirely different, and far more difficult thing to form an actual team, with players who fight for each other, who understand one another, and who stick together the whole 90 minutes, even when the going is against them. While this has been a problem with Brazil in previous tournaments – a recurring theme in many a team this generation – it seems they have all turned their heads towards the same goal, and that is winning the grand prize.
The only true weakness of this Brazil is a strange one, since it can turn out to be a strength as well, namely the country’s expectations for this squad, which is nothing less than winning the World Cup. What should be a home-advantage could quickly turn into a poisoned gift for the team, should they not perform to their high standards, sparking displeasement with the thousands of fans. They have handled the home-pressure well in last year’s Confederation Cup – winning it for the fourth time – but the Confed Cup is of little worth compared to the World Cup. This pressure could thus work both ways: it can be crippling, or it could be that extra motivation for the players to excell, to accomplish the highest possible.
Despite the massive pressure of their countrymen’s dreams of glory, I believe this exceptional squad will rise to the occasion, and bring home – or in this case, keep home – yet another World Cup victory, ensuring their own place in history next to the illustrious Pelé, Socrates and Garrincha.