With a under a month to go to the World Cup, the excitement for all the countries involved is really beginning to build. Squads are being names, players are beginning to shine and fans are beginning to wonder whether their team could go all the way this time. Fans that may be particularly hopeful this year will be those of the hosts, Brazil.
Some would say that the hosts are the ones feeling all the pressure, especially being favourites in the eyes of many, despite being 4th in the FIFA World Rankings. They’ve won it 5 times before, so why not make it a 6th? They have the talent and the squad to play any other team off the pitch (although, Spain may disagree with that) and the firepower up front to score goals for fun.
However, it might not be that simple. Manager Luis Felipe Scolari has only been back in the job for just over a year, and has already suffered difficult results despite not having to qualify due to being hosts, including a 2-1 loss to England at Wembley in February 2013.
Qualification and Group
Being hosts, Brazil automatically qualified for their own tournament this time around. It’s the 11th time they’ll appear in the World Cup finals, and they’ll be looking to improve on their record 5 trophies in their cabinet. Brazil will open the tournament in Rio de Janeiro against Croatia on June 11th, and will also have to play Mexico and Cameroon in their next fixtures.
Croatia can be a tough outfit, but most will expect Brazil to qualify for the round of 16 with ease.
It is well known that Brazil are the team with the record amount of trophies. They won the tournament in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and most recently in 2002. Brazil are used to success at the World Cup, in fact, in the 18 World Cup finals they have participated in, they have their 5 victories, they have made the final a total of 7 times, and have made the semi-final 10 times, a truely impressive record. In fact, just the fact alone that they have been to 18 World Cup finals is a record in itself.
Many have seen Brazil’s World Cup squad and questioned. Big absentees that many expected to be in the squad include Liverpool’s Phillipe Coutinho and young striker Alexander Pato. Also, KaKa, Robinho and Ronaldinho are not even on the standby list.
Chelsea quartet David Luiz, Oscar, Ramires and Willian all made the cut. QPR keeper Julio Cesar, on loan at Toronto FC, is also in the squad.
Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Toronto FC, on loan from QPR), Jefferson (Botafogo), Victor (Atletico Mineiro).
Defenders: Marcelo (Real Madrid), Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Maicon (AS Roma), Maxwell, Thiago Silva (both Paris St-Germain), David Luiz (Chelsea), Dante (Bayern Munich), Henrique (Napoli).
Midfielders: Paulinho (Tottenham Hotspur), Ramires , Willian, Oscar (all Chelsea), Hernanes (Inter Milan), Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Fernandinho (Manchester City).
Forwards: Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk), Neymar (Barcelona), Fred (Fluminense), Jo (Atletico Mineiro), Hulk (Zenit St Petersburg).
Standby: Diego Cavalieri (Fluminese) Miranda, Filipe Luis (both Atletico Madrid), Rafinha (Bayern Munich), Lucas Leiva (Liverpool), Lucas Moura (Paris St-Germain), Alan Kardec (Sao Paulo).
Brazil are eagerly awaiting the arrival of the nations for what promises to be a fantastic World Cup, are they your winners?
By Ben Kelly
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