It almost goes without saying that Brazil, the five time World Champions, go into every World Cup favoured to add yet another star to the legendary Amarelinha shirt. This year too, bookmakers believe that Brazil are in with a fantastic chance of winning the showpiece event. And frankly speaking, I don't blame the bookies given Brazil's squad quality and rich footballing past.
LAST WORLD CUP JOURNEY
Under manager Carlos Alberto Perreira, the FIFA World Cup 2006 had been very much of a disappointment for fans and players alike after Brazil crashed out in the Quarter finals after a 1-0 defeat at the hands of eventual finalists France. They boasted of a brilliant 11 match unbeaten run since FIFA 1998 which came to an end in the Quarter finals at FIFA World Cup Germany, 2006. The road to the quarter finals was smooth for Brazil and many had already put their bets on Brazil winning the event. But, a solid defensive display from France coupled with fantastic swift attacking led to the downfall of a surprisingly lacklustre Brazil side. The defending champs were undone with a moment of brilliance from Thierry Henry although it was the master Zinedine Zidane who wreck havoc on that day.
Carlos Caetano Bledorn Verri, better known as Dunga, upon taking the job in August 2006, had already experienced the high level of emotions that came with playing for Brazil. The powerful midfielder had skippered Brazil to victory in the FIFA World Cup 1994, USA. A master tactician and with Brazilian football in his blood, Dunga silenced his critics when he won the 2007 Copa America and The FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 alongwith clinching qualification for the 2010 event with 3 match days to spare. The Brazilian has a very talented and spirited team at his disposal and it wouldn't be surprising to see them playing at their best under this Master.
Julio Cesar, Gomes, Doni.
Maicon, Juan, Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, Lucio, Michel Bastos, Luisao, Gilberto Melo.
Felipe Melo, Gilberto Silva, Josue, Julio Baptista, Elano, Kaka, Ramires, Kleberson.
Luis Fabiano, Nilmar, Robinho, Grafite.
The Brazilian squad is full of World Class players. The spine of the team is very strong and the players playing around the spine are equally talented. The Brazil squad is a perfect blend of Youth and Experience and they effortlessly can make opponents look helpless. Add to that a master technician in Dunga and you get a complete entertainment package. Brazil is and always will be a massive threat to opposition teams because they have more players capable of producing magic on the pitch. Defensively, Brazil look very miserly whereas their swift passing and flair on the ball make for some attractive attacking play as well.
Normally you wouldn't relate weaknesses with Brazil but I think this time if there is a chink in the armour then its gotta be their Strike Force. Robinho has been out of form lately whereas Nilmar and Grafite are relatively inexperienced on the World stage. Luis Fabiano, on the other hand was in tremendous goal scoring form during the qualifiers but even he has failed to score in the past 3 matches. Though this is not much of a weakness given Brazil's stock of attacking players, it can be exposed by some tight defending and counter attacking football. To describe their weakness in a line, I would say that if u play football "Mourinho" style, you have got a chance against them..!
MEN TO WATCH
This Inter Milan man has shown us during this last season why he is the first choice Brazil keeper. Gifted with a super pair of hands, he has developed excellent reflexes and shot stopping ability. It is in no point down to him that Brazil have been so miserly defensively.
Brazil skipper and arguably Inter Milan's best player of the year alongwith Sneijder of course, Lucio has only improved with age. Some might say that age is not on his side but better look before you speak because he has defied all odds and is arguably is one of the best defenders in World football today. Excellent heading ability and his instinct to sense danger have made him one of the most difficult defenders to play against.
Completing the Brazilian spine in midfield is 'Kaka'. The Real Madrid player has been plagued by injuries throughout the season but stats show that both Brazil and Real Madrid have won more matches when he plays. Such is the quality and ability of this midfield playmaker cum goalscorer that has made him one of World football's biggest names. Armed with great Vision and craft, he is one of the most influential midfielders that the game has produced.
Brazil have been and always will be one of the favourites to win the mega event. This year, we predict them to definitely reach upto the Semi finals of the tournament. Even though they have been placed in a 'Group of Death', I think they have the quality in them to qualify for the knockout rounds and go upto the Semis. From thereon its all about who plays the best football on that day, and Brazil will definitely be a force to reckon with in the latter stages of the tournament.