World Cup 2014 Group A – Brazil

Outright odds: 3/1

To win group: 1/4

To qualify: 1/20

 

Full squad: Julio Cesar (Toronto FC), Jefferson (Botafogo), Victor (Gremio); Dani Alves (Barcelona), Maicon (Inter Milan), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Maxwell (Paris St Germain), David Luiz (Chelsea), Thiago Silva (Paris St Germain), Dante (Bayern Munich), Henrique (Napoli); Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Paulinho (Tottenham), Ramires (Chelsea), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Oscar (Chelsea), Willian (Chelsea), Hernanes (Inter Milan), Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk); Fred (Fluminense), Neymar (Barcelona), Hulk (Zenit St Petersburg), Jo (Atletico Mineiro).

 

Manager: Luiz Felipe Scolari

 

World Cup record: Five-time winners (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002), twice runners-up (1950, 1998), twice third (1938, 1978), fourth (1974)

 

How they qualified: Automatically as hosts

 

Charles Dickens’ is most famously associated with Great Expectations and while all top level players must deal with the pressure sooner or later but for Brazil there is a special level of pressure infront of their equally adoring and expectant crowd.

 

The build-up to this year’s tournament from a footballing perspective, however, since 2002 winner Luis Felipe Scolari has taken over, has been pretty much as smooth as the Selecao could have hoped for. With Mano Menzez having limited success after Dunga left and the side taking a worrying slump to 18th in the FIFA rankings, a steadying hand was much needed but Scolari has quickly turned this into a team of winners and while they arrive here with every confidence that they can lift a sixth trophy.

 

There was no qualification for Brazil as hosts but their win in the Confederations Cup could not have gone any better. Playing a high tempo, aggressive style of football that got at opponents from the earliest possible stage, Brazil won every single game, scoring 15 goals in 5 outings that culminated in a deeply impressive win against World and European Champions Spain in the final – they also ran out impressive winners against Euro 2012 finalists Italy in the group stages for good measure. Since, they’ve won their last 8 International friendlies.

Scolari has quickly built a team that is high on power and energy, to suit the gameplan that he wants, and while the flair and panache that is typically associated with Brazil is demanded along with victory, Brazil are a formidable defensive unit. Thiago Silva has been arguably the world’s outstanding centre back for at least three seasons, and while many had some questions over David Luiz as an international centreback, the two have performed well in unison with eachother and made for a fine centreback pairing what conceded just 3 goals in the Confederations Cup.

 

They are proected by Sergio Paulinhio and Luis Gustavo infront of them, making for a tough setup to breakdown, even if Lazio playmaker Hernanes was to play in place of one of the two setups. Creativity is all centred infront of them however, with Neymar the player that the hopes of a nation rest on. And with good reason – he is the creative supremo for Brazil and a far better presence there than at Barcelona, where he had a difficult first season fitting into a side that didn’t operate at full capacity. However with targetman Fred, who scored 5 goals at the Confederations, and Hulk to bring him into the game, along with Oscar playing in the number 10 role, there is much for Brazil to offer in attack as well as defence; Balance bought home the trophy for Scolari last time, and this time around, it may be the winning tool again. Brazil expects it.

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