In this week’s Then and Now feature Soccer Laduma compares the performances of the Selecao at the 2010 World Cup to what we can expect of the hosts in 2014.
Brazil is the most successful football nation and many Brazilians claim that football is religion in the country.
They have won the World Cup a record-breaking five times and finished twice as runners-up. That is why the 2010 World Cup fell far below expectations by Brazilian standards.
They topped the CONMEBOL qualification with only two losses and entered the tournament in South Africa as one of the favourites.
Their squad was more experienced than the current one, with stars like Lucio, Robinho and Kaka leading the lines. With two victories and one draw, Brazil topped the so called ‘group of death’ with North Korea, Ivory Coast and Portugal.
In the Round of 16 they thrashed Chile 3-0 and everything looked well on par, but their 2010 campaign ended in the quarter-final against the Netherlands.
The Dutch side came from behind through a brace by Wesley Sneijder and eliminated the Selecao. Mano Menezes replaced Carlos Dunga as national team coach, but was later replaced by Luiz Felipe Scolari.
The 65-year-old had won the 2002 World Cup with Brazil and installed new confidence into the national side. He called up young talents like Oscar, Bernard and made Neymar the centre of his transformation.
Under his helm, the 2014 World Cup hosts have only lost three out of 25 games, winning the last seven internationals in a row. In addition, they outshone everybody, including defending World Cup champions Spain, at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Many expected Brazil and Neymar to crack under the massive amount of pressure in 2013, but instead they eased through the tournament by winning all five games. Neymar’s five goals and his brilliant performances won him the Golden Ball for the best player of the tournament.
Scolari has done well to raise the confidence of his squad, which is probably not as experienced as many previous Selecao squads, but has an enormous amount of talent and seems to click well.
If the host nation can start positively into the tournament, Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon shouldn't stop them in Group A. The first real test will come in the Round of 16 where they are likely to face one of 2010's finalists.
But if the Samba nation rallies behind their boys, the euphoria could carry them far into the tournament.
How far will Brazil go at the 2014 World Cup? Have your say in the comment section below.