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World Cup 2014 Guide: Brazil

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The hosts are the bookies favourite for the tournament, despite being ranked as 4th in the World by FIFA. Boss Luiz Felipe Scolari has this Brazil side well-drilled and they will be expecting to go all the way in their own back yard. Placed in Group A along with Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon the Brazilian national side will look to top that group with relative ease. Last year’s Confederation’s Cup gave the World a sight into how Brazil will look to play, with two holding midfielders allowing 3 attacking midfielders to play behind a lone striker and look to cause mayhem with fluid link up play and movement. As hosts Brazil did not need to play qualifiers and this could turn out to be a negative for Brazil as the lack of competitive games meant they could not lock down striker Diego Costa, who has now opted to play for Spain instead. Brazil have also decided not to call up Costa’s two Atletico team mates Felipe Luis and Miranda despite them lifting La Liga at club level. Two former World players of the year, Ronaldinho and Kaka, also don’t make the tournament squad.

Key Players

Thiago Silva – The PSG defender is the captain of the Brazil national team and will be vital to the defensive side of their game. Many people rate the defender as the best in the World in his position and it is now the time for him to continue his impressive performances at club level onto the World stage. At 29 years old he will look to use his considerable experience to inspire his team mates towards lifting the trophy, whilst ensuring he impresses as an individual by using his pace and strength to his advantage against opposition attackers.

Luis Gustavo – The Wolfsburg midfielder is a vital part of the way the Brazil side play. He acts as a midfield anchor that allows the forward players the freedom to work their magic. His positional play also covers the forward runs of the sometimes unconventional defender David Luiz. He is a strong tackler and has exceptional positional play, but can be prone to suffering from a lack of discipline at times, shown by his three dismissals throughout last season at Wolfsburg. Despite this, the former Bayern Munich player has been linked with moves away to the likes of Arsenal and Barcelona as these sides look to use his strengths to bolster their defensive game. Against the better sides Gustavo is likely to be used as a ‘spoiler’ to break up play and disrupt the tempo of the game.

Oscar – The Chelsea midfielder has been used as the ‘Number 10’ for Brazil, playing centrally behind the striker and thus has been used as the primary playmaker by Scolari. He featured in every game in the 2013 Confederations Cup as Brazil went on to win the warm-up tournament and he provided an assist in the final against Spain. He combines his strong technical ability, with an incredible work-rate that seen him become first choice centrally for Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, ahead of Juan Mata before he moved on. This could be vital for Brazil during the tournament as his high-pressing can cause mistakes in the opposition defence, especially in the draining conditions due to the heat in Brazil.

Neymar JR – The Golden Boy of this Brazil generation, Neymar will be hoping he can reproduce his exceptional performances at the Confederations Cup last year in the World Cup. He has an incredible record of goals scored for Brazil, netting 30 goals in 47 appearances and will be expected to continue producing at this level by the Brazil fans. He finally made his expected move to Europe last summer, signing for Barcelona and has had a solid, if unspectacular debut season scoring 15 goals and assisting 11 goals in all competitions. However, with Barcelona not winning any silverware this season Neymar will be hoping that he can use the World Cup to prove to some of his critics, he is as talented as people claim. Neymar is likely to play on the left hand side of Brazil’s attack, cutting inside onto his strong right foot. After winning the Golden Ball for best player at the Confederations Cup from this position, he will be feeling confident that he can lead from the front as Brazil look to lift the trophy on home soil.

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