Five-time winners Brazil host their second World Cup this summer, and it is no surprise that Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side are one of the early favourites for the competition.
Manager: Luiz Felipe Scolari
Captain: Thiago Silva
World Cup Winners: 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002
World Cup Runners up: 1950, 1998
Brazil 2014 World Cup Preview:
Unlike in previous World Cups, Brazil’s real strength can be found further back, with Thiago Silva fronting a mean defence, while in the midfield, the likes of Ramires, Luis Gustavo and Paulinho give even more protection; allowing their vibrant attacking line, with Neymar the star, to do the damage up top.
It is the consistency of this Brazil side that is the most impressive, not only when looking throughout the squad, but also in their results, with Scolari’s side failing to win just once in the past year (a shock defeat to Switzerland), and hitting the back of the net for fun.
If there was to be a criticism of this side, it would be the lack of a world class striker to lead the line, with Fluminense striker Fred often leaving much to be desired.
But Brazil’s dynamic duo of Oscar and Neymar are certainly not shot-shy, and while Fred may pale in comparison to other top strikers in the competition, he plays his part well enough, bringing his teammates into the fore, and proving to be a handful when on form.
Indeed, the 30-year-old scored twice in Brazil’s 3-0 demolition of World and European Champions Spain in the final of the 2013 Confederations Cup, and while he was not the outstanding player, he proved that he can be a presence up top for the South Americans.
Neymar, who scored a sublime second in that game, has the hopes of a nation on his shoulders, and judging by his performances in the run-up to the finals, he is up to the challenge. An ingenious little player of quite sensational ability; the 22-year-old may just emerge as the player of the tournament come July, and Brazil as World Champions for a record sixth time.
Brazil 2014 World Cup Squad:
Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Toronto FC), 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 (VfL Wolfsburg), Fernandinho (Manchester City)
Forwards: Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk), Neymar (Barcelona), Fred (Fluminense), Jo (Atletico Mineiro), Hulk (Zenit St Petersburg)
Key Player(s): Neymar
Brazil 2014 World Cup Stats:
For more World Cup previews, stats and news, see our World Cup 2014 Guide.