No matter what the competition is, whether it be a FIFA Youth World Cup, Olympics or World Cup, the expectation for Brazil is that anything short of winning the tournament is a failure. This year’s Confederations Cup, which Brazil is hosting as a warm-up to next summer’s World Cup is no exception.
Brazil finds itself in the midst of a slump, as it is currently twenty-second in the current FIFA World Rankings. While part of that has to do with the fact that Brazil, because it is hosting the World Cup, has not played a competitive match since the 2011 Copa America quarterfinal round loss to Paraguay. The main reason it finds itself twenty-second is because of the fact they have not played well.
During that time, Brazil has had a coaching change as Mano Menezes was ousted two months after losing the Gold Meal game at the London 2012 Olympics to Mexico. In came the man that led Brazil to it’s last World Cup triumph in 2002, Luiz Felipe Scolari, better known as Felipao.
Since Felipao took over, the team has still to fire on all cylinders despite having players like Neymar, Oscar and Lucas Moura, who are now prominent players on the national team. On the eve of playing their first game in the Confederations Cup against Japan, Felipao and his players know that anything less than winning will be unacceptable.
Winning the Confederations Cup is a must for Brazil on many different levels. As already mentioned, because they are Brazil, five time World Cup winners, the country that promoted jogo bonito (beautiful game), anything less is a failure. Because of their recent struggles, Brazil needs to win the tournament in order to restore some self-confidence about itself a year before the World Cup on home soil.
Brazil has also suffered from a loss of identity in terms of play. Forget them exhibiting the high flying style that made the 1982 World Cup team so beloved, but Brazil has seen teams like Germany, Spain and even Italy to a certain extent play more attacking soccer than the purveyors of jogo bonito. Winning the Confederations Cup would go a long way to restoring that identity.
Not there is not any more pressure than normal, but failure to win the Confederations Cup would only increase the pressure that Felipao and his team will have a year from now to win the World Cup. Winning the Confederations Cup, while not decreasing the pressure to win next summer, would give the squad some necessary space to be able to properly get ready for the World Cup.
When a national team hosts the World Cup, one thing it can count on is the support of the entire country. In the case of Brazil at the moment, that cannot be said at this moment. Even as recently as a 3-0 friendly win over France last Sunday, the team was booed during the first half.
Winning the Confederations Cup would create much needed support from fans and make it so that when the teams steps foot in a stadium, the support from the twelfth man during the World Cup, the entire stadium will be supporting them unconditionally.