The sport of association football was invented in England but Brazil are its best exponents. They have won the biggest prize in soccer five times and everyone in the country will expect them to make it six in South America this summer.
Taking the world championships to Brazil has caused controversy in that country. Poverty is a problem and many feel spending vast amounts of money on a sports event is wrong. The debate is made more pertinent by fact the 2016 Olympics Games are being held in Rio.
Despite popular protests the country will not be able to help itself in getting behind its team when the tournament begins. Brazil’s opening match against Croatia in June will be a wonderful sporting occasion which despite the protests will unite the country.
There will be massive expectation on Neymar who at aged just 22 is very young for such a responsibility. However, he has scored 30 goals in 47 internationals. He played well in the Confederations Cup in Brazil last summer but the pressure will be much greater this year.
In Thiago Silva Brazil have just about the best defender in the world. There is enough ability in the rest of the squad to get through their group but the key match will be in the quarter-finals possibly against England. That fixture would bring together the inventors of the sport and the country that plays it best.
The Brazil team that won the tournament in Mexico in 1970 is considered the best soccer side ever. Teams that followed could never quite match that side’s flair and winning recent tournaments has been more based on a solid defence and midfield and enough ability in attack to score the goals.
The current generation of Brazilian internationals are clearly not as good as the 1970 vintage. However, with Neymar at his best and decent teammates they could meet the expectations of their compatriots this summer.