Brazil

Brazil have come a long way since the last FIFA World Cup, when Dunga’s ponderous side were eliminated by the Netherlands. That galling failure sparked a change in direction, with Mano Menezes taking the helm and drafting untested, domestic-based players such as Neymar. While the injection of youth was welcome, a disappointing Copa America campaign in 2O11 cast doubts over the project. A year later, an underwhelming display at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament London 2012 made Menezes’s position untenable.

In their hour of need, Brazil turned to a man who had come up trumps once before. Luiz Felipe Scolari’s impact, while not immediate, has been profound: after a handful of middling performances in friendlies, A Selecao sailed to FIFA Confederations Cup glory in 2013, brushing aside Italy and Spain in the process.

If Brazil go on to challenge for the Trophy this summer, the FIFA Confederations Cup will be seen as the turning point. The hosts grew in confidence with each passing game, spurred on by the sense of patriotism engendered by the hundreds of thousands of fans filling the stadiums. With Neymar, Oscar and Paulinho emerging as players of tru international class, A Selecao suddenly looked like a force to be reckoned with.

Having been handed a relatively kind group, they will enter the FIFA World Cup among the favourites. The only minor worry is that Scolari’s charges may have peaked too soon, raising expectation levels too high before the competition begins. The coach himself, though, seems unconcerned by such fears. Asked to state his target for Brazil 2014, he replied with conviction – and customary charisma: “We will be champions. What did you expect me to say?”

“If Brazil go on to challenge for the Trophy, the FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 will be seen as the turning point.”

COACH

LUIZ FELIPE SCOLARI

A famed copeiro 9cup competition expect), Scolari’s status as national treasure was cemented in 2002, when he guided Brazil to FIFA World Cup success. The years since have brought mixed results with Portugal, Chelsea FC and SE Palmeiras among others, but he remains adept forging team spirit and is well liked by his players.

Tactics

While he has experimented with a 4-1-4-1 formation, Luiz Felipe Scolari is likely to maintain the 4-2-3-1 system that served him so well in the FIFA Confederations Cup 2013. Luiz Gustavo will anchor the midfield and occasionally drop into the backline, allowing Paulinho to get forward. Oscar is the link man, Neymar the roaming danger.

Fixtures Group A

Croatia
San Paulo 13 June 2014

Mexico
Fortaleza 18 June 2014

Cameroon
Brasilia 24 June 2014

*Dates are AEST

Tournament History
Previous tournaments: 19

2010 FIFA World Cup performance
Quarter-Finals

Best performance
Winners, 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002

How they qualified
Automatically as hosts