Five times World Cup winners, Brazil, head to South Africa looking to confirm their position as the best international team in World football by winning the World Cup for a sixth time, which would mean that they would have won one in every three tournaments since the competition started in 1930.
The latest Fifa rankings rate the Samba Kings as the number one team in the World but the opinion of the bookmakers is that Spain is the most likely team to leave South Africa as World Champions, with Vicente del Bosque’s side the favourites to win the tournament, the first time since 1990 it has not been Brazil, who are now second favourites.
However, Spain must justify their favourite’s tag, which does add pressure and expectation on the players and pressure is not something the Spaniards have coped well with down the years. The fact that Spain has never progressed beyond the Quarter Final stage of a World Cup since 1950 is often attributed to the pressure of the Spanish media.
In comparison, Brazil has proven on multiple occasions that they can handle the pressure of being pre-tournament favourites, most recently in 1994 and 2002. Therefore, the main rival stopping Brazil from winning its sixth World Cup according to the bookies has a huge question mark to answer.
Another trend which favours Brazil in South Africa is that no European team has ever won the World Cup when the tournament has been staged outside of Europe. This means that Spain, along with other leading European World Cup fancies, including England, Holland, Italy and Germany must buck this trend if they are to win in the Southern Hemisphere; a factor that history suggests plays to the advantage of Brazil and also their South American rivals, Argentina in South Africa.
Brazil’s World Cup pedigree cannot be disputed, the fact that they have won the competition more times than anybody else speaks for itself. However, with Italy just one win behind them with four World Cups to their name, Brazil will know that a sixth title this summer will reaffirm their position as the unrivalled best team in the World.
Brazil is also the only team to have qualified for all 18 of the previous World Cups and down the years many of their players have become familiar names. None more so than Pele, widely regard as the greatest player of all time and won three World Cup medals with his country. Other great names to have worn the famous yellow and green include Djalma Santos, Roberto Rivelino, Gilmar and most recently; Cafu, Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo have all wowed crowds with their trademark Brazilian flair.
Even current Brazil manager, Dunga, is considered a great having captained the side to World Cup success in 1994, an experience that he is sure to draw upon to benefit the current squad.
Many critics have questioned the current Brazil that will bid for World Cup glory in South Africa and whilst it may not be as good as past Brazil teams, it is still a collective of world class players that will strike fear in to the eyes of any opponent. The likes of Kaka, Robinho, Daniel Alves, Elano and Luis Fabiano all possess the ability to win games and will need to be at their best to overcome Portugal and the Ivory Coast in Group G to progress to the last 16. A group that will ensure that one of the more fancied teams of the competition will be heading home early.
Whether or not Brazil wins the 2010 World Cup remains to be seen but they certainly have pedigree, history and stats on their side. Whilst every team heading to South Africa has something to prove in order to win the World Cup, Brazil probably has fewer questions to answer than most others and despite not being favorites in the World Cup odds, it would be no surprise to see them to make it six of the best come the final whistle of the World Cup final come 11th July.