Team Profile: Brazil
Ranking: 3 (Last Updated 05 June)
History: Football and Brazil are often considered synonyms. Their ever present fans, with their `no one can touch Brazil in world football` expression follow the Selecao everywhere they play. And rightly, their players have dominated the world football as no other team has ever done.
Undoubtedly they are always favorites to win every tournament they compete in. Their five titles and host of other team and player records make the Samba boys truly the best national team in football history.
Ever since `that` Maracanazo, by Uruguay in the inaugural World Cup of 1950 at Estadio do Maracana, it has mostly been Brazil all the way. Yes, there were periods of European domination, but the influence of the Brazilians has made the most famous game a lot more beautiful, to say the least.
Qualifying report: Qualified as the host nation, thus avoiding an otherwise overcrowded South American (CONMEBOL) qualification draw which had countries like Argentina, Columbia, Chile, Equador, Uruguay in the fray and qualified through the available 4+1 slot.
Star Players: Neymar – is the poster-boy in a line-up which, in all probability, will have the likes of Oscar, Hulk, Ramires, Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho, Hernanes, Marcelo, Thiago Silva, David Luiz and Dani Alves. The Barcelona starlet will play a pivotal role in Brazil`s bid to become the seventh team to win the tournament at home.
Bernard – Believe it or not, the little known Atletico Mineiro winger will be the surprise package in the tournament. The 21-year-old, who had a brief stint with Shakhtar Donetsk, was described by Big Phil as `having joy in his legs,` all despite his small stature.
Having plied their trade in Europe for some of the biggest clubs with planet size ego, these new crop of Brazilians, besides their unrivaled talent, certainly know how to cope with pressure and expectations.
Top scorer at the Cup: Ronaldo – the original. The Phenomenon was instrumental in Brazil lifting the Jules Rimet trophy in 1994 and 2000. His tally of 15 goals in the finals is still the highest by any player. Behind him, in the list, is the great Pele with 12.
Most World Cup caps: Cafu – the former Selacao skipper made 20 appearances, winning the title twice in 1994 and 2002. Of those 21 games, Brazil won 16 times, a record. The legendary full-back also played in a record three cup finals, losing the 1998 edition hosts France. Ronaldo played in 19 matches.
Team record at the Cup: Brazil have won the title a record five times - 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002. They were also the runners up in 1950 and 1998. Besides, they are the only footballing nation to have played in every single edition of the World Cup, and without ever requiring to go through the play-offs.
Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari – known as "Big Phil", Scolari returned with his national team in 2012 after managing one of the most successful Brazilian clubs – Palmeiras for two seasons. Despite the club fighting for survival in the top tier under Scolari and their subsequent relegation, the Brazilian Football Confederation once again anointed the former Portugal boss at the helm, hoping for a repeat of their 2002 success.
To his credit, the 65-year-old had previously led Portugal to the Euro 2004 final, 2006 World Cup semi-finals and last eight at Euro 2008. Ever since his arrival, despite a slow start, Scolari has revived the fluidity in the mid-field, which augurs well for the team considering the fact that they don`t have a traditional front man.
Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Toronto FC), Jefferson (Botafogo), Victor (Atletico Mineiro)
Defenders: Marcelo (Real Madrid), Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Maicon (AS Roma), Maxwell, Thiago Silva (both Paris St Germain), David Luiz (Chelsea), Dante (Bayern Munich), Henrique (Napoli)
Midfielders: Paulinho (Tottenham Hotspur), Ramires, Willian, Oscar (all Chelsea), Hernanes (Inter Milan), Luiz Gustavo (VfL Wolfsburg), Fernandinho (Manchester City)
Forwards: Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk), Neymar (Barcelona), Fred (Fluminense), Jo (Atletico Mineiro), Hulk (Zenit St Petersburg)
Group listing: Group A: Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon
1 June 12: Brazil v Croatia - Arena Corinthians, Sao Paulo
2 June 17: Brazil v Mexico - Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza
3 June 23: Cameroon v Brazil - Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha, Brasilia