World Cup 2014: Brazil join the
party but how long will they
By David OrnsteinBBC Sport in Brasilia
One of the few missing ingredients at this most
enthralling of World Cups had been a Brazil side in full
flow; on Monday, the host nation finally delivered.
But for all the mesmerising, Neymar-inspired attacking brilliance on
display in beating Cameroon 4-1, question marks remain over their hopes
of lifting a title they view as a birthright.
This is a tournament that Brazil have repeatedly and unashamedly stated
they expect to win - from supporters to pundits and players to staff, a
home triumph is the minimum expectation.
Were that not enough, they intend to do it in a style befitting their
footballing ethos and tradition, succeeding where their predecessors so
painfully failed on home soil in 1950.
Not even below-par performances in their opening two Group A matches -
an unconvincing 3-1 victory over Croatia and 0-0 draw against Mexico -
altered that demand.
Yes, there had been concern among fans, media and the squad itself
following those results: the standards set in winning last year's
Confederations Cup were not being met, opponents seemed to have
wised up to their tactics, the midfield looked porous and the attack was
Allied to the injuries and dips in form which afflicted the likes of Julio
Cesar, Marcelo, Paulinho, Oscar and Fred last season, fears were raised
and confidence dented.
According to Bernardo Itri, football columnist for the national newspaper
Folha de S.Paulo, Brazilians were suddenly "afraid" of how their team
would fare against more talented and unforgiving teams, such as
Germany and Argentina, in the knockout stage.
But on a balmy evening at a ground where their march to that
Confederations Cup triumph began 12 months ago, Brazil arrived to a
party at which they plan on being the last reveller standing.
The focus on the five-time champions is huge - there are yellow and
green colours pretty much everywhere you look in this passionate
country; a television audience of 42.9m tuned in to watch the Croatia
game on Brazilian network Globo; and the slogan emblazoned along the
side of their team bus reads: "Brace Yourselves! The Sixth is Coming!"
Yet after scoring twice to become the tournament's leading
marksmanwith four goals, man-of-the-match Neymar commented: "There
is no pressure. I've always said there is no pressure when you are making
a dream come true and doing something you have sought after since you
were a kid.
"I'm now playing in matches that I always dreamed about. I just want to
help my fellow players not only by scoring goals but doing whatever it
takes on the pitch to help us win.
"We are on the right track and the whole team is getting better and getting
close to our target."
Certainly Brazil seemed to relish the atmosphere after being greeted by
thousands of jubilant followers at Estadio Nacional, followers who formed
endless queues outside every gate more than three hours before kick-off,
many singing and dancing with excitement while they waited.
Monday's front page of the prominent national newspaper Lance! read in
English: "The national team does not have a song that moves people in
this World Cup. So, fans, fill your chest and scream loud for our
The lack of a unique chant has led to an online campaign to create one,
but on this occasion it mattered not - the fans simply had to provide their
wholehearted support. And how they did.
Reportedly the second most expensive football venue ever built, Estadio
Nacional was made for nights like this and the din the teams walked out
to was matched by Brazil's attacking ferocity.
Neymar set them on their way with the 100th goal of the 2014 World Cup
in Brazil's 100th game at World Cup finals, and restored their lead after
Joel Matip's equaliser.
Fred and Fernandinho sealed the win, but it was Neymar who ran the
show to cement his standing among the game's leading lights. Just 22
years old, the Barcelona forward already has 35 goals and 20 assists in
52 internationals and proved that anything is possible with him in the line-
Former England midfielder and BBC pundit Danny Murphy said: "Neymar
is the main man in the Brazil team and seems to thrive on it whereas at
Barcelona he is not.
"In each game he has grown in confidence and that does not bode well
for whoever they play next. Any team who are playing Brazil will be
looking at their left-hand side of the pitch."
That team is Chile and they are sure to pose a far greater threat than
The Indomitable Lions have endured a shambolic couple of weeks, yet
the fact that they managed to equalise and cause so many problems in
the first half will not sit well with Brazil.
Scolari's worries in the first two fixtures centred on his attack, but now it
was the defence that looked shaky as centre-back David Luiz and right-
back Dani Alves found themselves exposed.
Former Republic of Ireland midfielder and BBC pundit Kevin Kilbane said:
"Brazil have struggled in defence and make mistakes. Luiz makes bad
positional decisions and down the left Cameroon got in behind Brazil at
will. When Cameroon put simple balls into the box Brazil struggled."
Never one to shy away from confrontation, an animated Scolari later
argued: "As for the defence, I don't have a single drop of fear. They are
fantastic, wonderful. Even great defensive players can be challenged. I
was once a great defender and sometimes people even challenged me.
"But we cannot afford any hiccups now, we can't give our opponent a
chance. We have to find the right balance. We can't make mistakes and
that's what we need to do differently in the next game."
Speaking in December, Scolari called Chile "a pain" to play against
because their system is in direct contrast to Brazil's, adding "I hope they
don't qualify. I'd rather play any of the others", and he reiterated that
feeling as he previewed Saturday's encounter in Belo Horizonte.
The 65-year-old also sprang to the defence of Fred, who despite getting
on the scoresheet - in what looked to be from an offside position - was
again disappointing. As was fellow forward Hulk.
Interestingly, the closest Scolari came to criticising his players was when
he warned them of the dangers of trying to be "too quick to show too
much, we need to be serene and calm".
The former Portugal and Chelsea manager knows that Brazil's natural
instincts could land them in trouble against canny opposition and believes
"patience" in possession is key to their chances.
If they can achieve the balance he is looking for their dreams are more
likely to come true, but tougher tests than Cameroon await - starting with
Chile on Saturday.
The FIFA World Cup
What is your opinion of the decision to hold the FIFA World Cup in
Brazil in 2014?
Would you like to go to Brazil to watch the tournament, or are you
put off by stories of high crime rates?
In December 2013 there were a lot of rumours on the internet
claiming that the draw was fixed or manipulated in some way. What
is your opinion?
Do you think your country is in a good group?
Several groups have been labelled "Group of Death". Which one
deserves the title?
Group B: Australia, Chile, Netherlands and Spain
Group D: Costa Rica, England, Italy and Uruguay
Group G: Germany, Ghana, Portugal and United States
Which matches do you expect to watch on TV?
During what hours will the matches be played in your
Which do you think is the most important or exciting - the
World Cup or the Olympics? Why?
The world cup takes place every four years. What would
be the advantages and disadvantages of holding it (a)
more frequently and (b) less frequently?
How do you feel about important matches being decided
on penalties? Do you enjoy watching penalty shootouts?
Can you think of a better system?
In your country do people find time to watch matches
when they should be working or studying? How?
All the matches should be available on-line along with the
scores. How would you react if your employer filtered your
internet access so that you could not obtain this
How do you prefer to watch matches if you are not at the
stadium? At home alone, at home with friends, in a
bar/pub, on a giant screen in the street ...
Hooliganism is frequently a problem at football matches.
Why do you think that football has this problem?
What steps can the organisers take to reduce
hooliganism's impact at the World Cup?
What do you think of the idea that international football
matches are really a substitute for war?
How do you react if your team scores a goal?
In many sports in the US there are teams of cheerleaders
who lead the cheering. What do you think of this practice?
Which teams do you expect to do well, and which team do
you think could win? Why?
What is your opinion of your country's football team?
How well did they do in the last competition?
Different countries are said to have different playing
styles. How would you describe: Brazil, Italy, England,
If you were in Brazil and could only watch one match -
which two teams would you like to see play against each
Do you think that each team's national manager or coach
should be a native of that country? Why, why not?
Which international players do you expect to shine?
Who do you think is the best player in the world at the
Who do you think was the best player of all time?
Which players from your national team do you expect to
Are there any players from your country who you feel
should be playing but who have not been selected?
The competition so far
What is the best goal you have seen so far?
What has been the silliest goal so far?
Which teams do you think are playing the best at the
What do you think is the most surprising result so far?
What do you think about the standard of the refereeing?
What do you think has been the worst referring decision
Would you like to see some technological system
introduced to help referees when they make decisions?
What sort of technological system?
Have there been many professional fouls in the games
you have seen?
STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show to Student B)
1) Why do you think football is the world‟s most popular sport?
2) Why does football attract hooligans?
3) Is there anything else that joins the world in celebration like the football World Cup?
4) In 30 seconds, can you explain what football is?
5) Do you think women‟s football is as exciting as men‟s?
6) “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death…I can assure you it is much,
much more important than that.” What do you think of the thoughts of this famous
7) How can football authorities change the rules to make the game more exciting?
8) What do you know about the history of football?
9) „Football‟ or „soccer‟ - Which word is best?
10) Pele or Maradona – Who was better?
STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show to Student A)
1) Do you think football is a sport and an art?
2) Do you think professional footballers get paid too much?
3) What do you like and dislike about football?
4) Do you think the bosses of American sports like baseball and American football are
jealous of the worldwide popularity of football?
5) Where is the world‟s best football played?
6) What do you understand by the term „football widow‟?
7) Do you think football will one day become the number one sport in the USA?
8) Is there a better feeling in life than to score the winning goal for your country in
football‟s World Cup final?
9) Is it a problem that so few goals are scored in football?
10) Do you think football will be different 50 or 100 years from now?