History – Brazil are pre-tournament favourites for the 2014 World Cup despite having not won the trophy since 2002. They owe their position at the head of the market to their proud history as five-time winners as well as being the host nation. They can also point to a 3-0 victory over defending champions Spain in the 2013 Confederation Cup.
Brazil are the only team to have played in every World Cup and won the tournament in 1958, 1962, 1970,1994 and 2002. Their 1970 team is now established in footballing folklore as the most talented side ever to grace a football field. They are also the most successful team in tournament history and bolstered their claims for World Cup glory by winning the FIFA Confederations Cup this year. They are also the most successful side in that event, winning it in 1997, 2005 and 2009 prior to their recent triumph.
Although officially ranked below several of their World Cup rivals, Brazil will be among the most feared of opponents at the 2014 World Cup. They are the only side to have won the competition in four different continents, including their 1962 victory in Chile in South America. Having automatically qualified as the host nation, they have been free to concentrate on building a team capable of winning the trophy in front of their adoring home fans.
They have picked their opponents carefully as they aim to bring their current crop of star players to fruition on the biggest stage in world soccer. Neymar, Dani Alves and Júlio César are already regarded as being among the finest players in the game and will be key to their success in 2014. They have played Argentina, France, USA, England and the Netherlands since South Africa 2010 but it was their victory in the Confederations Cup that provided them with the confidence for the World Cup itself.
2013 FIFA Confederations Cup
As defending champions, Brazil were fully entitled to start favourites for the Confederations Cup this year and anything less would have been regarded as a failure. Having started with a comfortable 3–0 victory over Japan, Brazil beat Mexico 2–0 and Italy 4-2 to reach the semi-finals. They were pushed all the way by a resilient Uruguay but secured a 1-0 victory through a late goal by Paulinho.
This set up an intriguing clash with the current world and European champions, Spain. This was the first meeting between the teams in a FIFA tournament for almost 27 years and it resulted in a resounding win by three goals to nil. The impressive victory ended a 29-match unbeaten run for the Spanish and underlined Brazil’s claims for the 2014 World Cup.
Neymar was named player of the tournament and Fred received the Silver Shoe Award as top scorer with five goals. Goalkeeper Júlio César received the Golden Glove Award to stake his claim as the greatest keeper in world football.
Neymar is undoubtedly the player that most fans will be looking forward to seeing at the World Cup. The 21-year-old Barcelona star was named South American Footballer of the Year in 2011 and was courted by a host of big clubs across Europe including some in the English Premier League. He retained the award in 2012. His main strengths are his incredible pace aligned with great ball control and deadly finishing. He is equally dangerous with either foot and has even been compared to the great Pelé.
Neymar made his debut for Santos in 2009, winning the club’s Best Young Player award in the same season and Best Player award in 2010 after top scoring in the Copa do Brazil with 11 goals. He finished the season with 42 goals in 60 appearances and helped his side to win the Cup and League Double.
Neymar won Best Player again in 2011 with his team winning the title and the Copa Libertadores. He has represented Brazil at Under-17, Under-20 and senior levels. He made his debut in 2010 in a friendly against the United States and scored in a 2-0 victory.
Brazil are currently 7-2 favourites to win the World Cup in 2014 with Neymar 10-1 to win the Golden Boot as leading goal scorer in the tournament.