Perennial powerhouses Brazil will enter the 2010 World Cup no different than any other competition, the favorites to win it all. They have won five World Cup titles and don’t bet against them to make it six this year in South Africa. A nation so thick in soccer talent, coach Dunga was forced to leave legends like Ronaldo, and Ronaldinho off of this year’s squad. Look for Brazil to employ a no-nonsense lineup this time around with players who are versatile and give supreme effort, yet still display the world-class talent they are renowned for.
Brazil finds themselves in this year’s ‘Group of Death’, Group G, paired with their rivals from Portugal, an Ivory Coast side buoyed by the advantage of playing on their home continent, and an intriguing, but relatively unknown North Korean team. Although Brazil should win their group with relative ease, the battle for second place behind them should be competitive and one of the most intriguing of the tournament.
Three of the last four World Cups, Brazil has played in the finals, emerging victorious in two of them. In 2006, they bowed out in a shocking quarter-finals exit to France after inexplicably being shut out. Brazil will eagerly seek to avoid that embarrassment this time around. The Selecao of Brazil are also accomplished winners across the globe. Heading into Africa they will have won this prestigious title on 4 different continents, and will look to make it five in 2010.
Like always, Brazil travels to South Africa on their seemingly permanent winning streak. They finished atop the South American qualifying competition, beating out the likes of Chile, Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay, all of whom also qualified for this year’s World Cup. They are also a year removed from their series of impressive feats at the 2009 Confederations Cup, which saw Brazil practically toy with their inferior opponents. At halftime of the final match Brazil trailed the U.S.A. 2-0, yet stormed back in the final 45 minutes to capture the trophy and win 3-2, perfectly displaying their lethal, quick-strike offense. 2007 also brought another trophy for the collection case as they captured the Copa America, defeating rivals Argentina in the final. They will enter in-form and focused, looking to obtain their third major international title, in just as many years.
Brazil’s strength is essentially everything about their team. Just their reputation alone strikes fear into their opposition. They carry with them a controlled arrogance to all of their matches. Loaded with world-class talent, Brazil will employ a 4-4-2 formation to begin in South Africa. Expect Brazil to display grit and tenacity on all areas of the pitch, yet still possess those magical capabilities which separate them from the rest of the field. They will effectively activate its flank defenders allowing for constant pressure on their opponents. Inter Milan’s talented right-back Maicon makes the Brazil back line nearly impenetrable, yet will often join the attack and produce lovely strikes from afar. Most offense is run through their star midfielder Kaka, one of the world’s top players heading into South Africa. He will display his blistering pace and creativity in dishing the ball to lethal finishers Robinho and Luis Fabiano. The theme of this version of the Selecao is their versatility. They have become more dangerous as they are capable of winning any type of game. Brazil has emerged victorious in both high-scoring affairs, and have learned play a more staunch defensive game under their tactician Dunga. Very few teams in this year’s field can match up to the Brazilians, and if they play to their strengths in South Africa, it will be beautiful football to behold.
To find a weakness with the Brazilian side would be like nitpicking at a supermodel. That said, one of Brazil’s biggest qualities could be a slight downfall for the Selecao. During the qualifying stages, Brazil used 41 different players in their matches. Despite their great depth, these seemingly interchangeable lineups could make players unfamiliar with one another when the tournament begins. Being the number one ranked team in the world will only take you so far, their cohesion as a unit must exist for them to live up to expectations. Another area of concern could be the right side of their defenders. The left-side is the best in the world with their captain Lucio and Maicon on patrol, but the right flank has used a variation of different players, and such unfamiliarity could be vulnerable against some of the stronger teams.
Despite being a participant in this year’s toughest group, Brazil has to be pleased with the layout of their schedule. Opening their tournament against an irrelevant side from North Korea will allow the Brazilians to settle in nicely, acclimatize themselves with each other and their surroundings, and put on a show for their enthusiastic fans in attendance. From their first match onward, I expect Brazil to face tougher challenges yet ultimately end up atop their group. The Selecao should be capable of waltzing past a strong side from England in the semi-finals, yet should meet their demise in a narrow defeat to co-favorites Spain in the July 11th final. Their road to World Cup glory certainly will not be an easy one this time around, but the class of this roster is unparalleled, and should yet again be in contention to add to their illustrious and undisputable winning record.
Brazil World Cup Prediction: 2nd Place (Lose to Spain in the Finals)
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