Despite being among the favourites, could the South American giants struggle in their home tournament?
Home advantage and Brazil’s reputation for producing gloriously gifted players are key reasons why they will be among the favourites to win their sixth World Cup. The fact that a European team has never won the trophy in South America is also in their favour. But Brazil could stumble in football’s greatest tournament, and here’s why.
Superstition suggests that Brazil’s victory at the 2013 Confederations Cup means that this is not the year for them. No side has ever won the main crown after winning the warm-up event. The Confederations Cup was marred by protests and such tensions have not disappeared.
The unrest shows that not everyone has warmed up to the tournament, and this places massive demands on the squad to unite the country and become national heroes. The players also have the difficult task of laying the ghost of 1950 to rest after the shock defeat to Uruguay when the final was last played at the Maracana.
One potential weakness in the Selecao squad is in goal. Not even Brazil are strong enough to head into the tournament without a dependable goalkeeper.
Julio Cesar is expected to be the first choice even though he has only played seven times since joining Toronto FC on loan from Queens Park Rangers in January, and the gulf in quality between the MLS and the World Cup is obvious. He will be under immense pressure given that the country’s fate could be in his hands.
Another problem is at the other end of the pitch. Neymar has failed to entirely convince his critics at Barcelona, Jo was a flop at Manchester City and Fluminense’s Fred is just recovering from a serious injury.
With the weight of history on their shoulders, can they score the goals to win the World Cup once again?