By Craig Pearson on April 15, 2014
Brazil are the team that will be under the microscope the most when the World Cup rolls around in June. They do not possess quite the same caliber of talent that they have had heading into previous World Cups, but still, the country has high hopes for them as they host the competition for the first time since 1950. It will be an entertaining ride, that we do know. Whether they can fulfill the country's dreams, however, is what we await.
The group Brazil were handed with Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon as their initial opponents may not look too difficult for the hosts, but the knockout stages already look a lot more complex. The second round will most likely bring Spain or the Netherlands, then a meeting with Falcao and Colombia (who will be comfortable in the Brazilian climate), Italy or England and then most likely Germany in the semifinals.
No team will be under the kind of pressure that Brazil will be this summer. Playing at home can be a gift and it can be a curse too, depending on whether the team are playing well or not. Brazil will be carrying huge expectations on their shoulders, and they will have to deal with that if they are to go far in the tournament.
Brazil possess some defenders who are great offensively but defensively are very suspect. Dani Alves and Marcelo can both be huge influences when attacking, but in defense, they can both be a weakness to be exploited. David Luiz is always liable to make a costly error at any time, and Brazil will not get away with these frailties later in the competition. Whether the midfield gives the defense enough protection is questionable also.
Brazil have a lot of talented players, but they also have a lot of inconsistent players who you can never totally rely. Neymar is still unproven, Hulk is either very good or very poor, Paulinho has been disappointing all season, David Luiz can be a liability and Fred and Jo as backup strikers wouldn't exactly fill you with confidence. If they all hit it off at once, then they're in business. But the chances of that are minute.
From being a teenager, Neymar has been hailed as the next Brazilian superstar. He lives up to that billing at times and falls way, way short at others. He has to be at his peak at all times during the World Cup, though, and off-days or drop-offs will not be possible. Lionel Messi hasn't managed it yet for Argentina, but Neymar will? Messi has a better supporting cast with Argentina also but has still failed so far -- and so will Neymar.
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