It`s show time in Brazil and the journey to Rio is finally over! The 2014 Fifa World Cup begins on Thursday with hosts Brazil playing the tournament opener against Croatia.
The month-long tournament sees 32 nations compete for a place in the final in Rio on Sunday, 13 July. With being the most successful team in the history of the game at the mega event, Brazil will be eyeing its sixth World Cup trophy.
The host country has prevailed six times in the 17 World Cup competitions held between 1930 and 1998. It all started with the very first World Cup, which was held in Uruguay in 1930 in which the hosts had defeated Argentina. In 1998, France blanked Brazil 3-0 at home to seize the honour. Since then no host nation has won it and Brazil will be hoping to be the seventh nation to achieve this feat.
The mega event couldn`t have come at a better time for Brazil. After having beaten world champions Spain in the FIFA Confederations Cup last year which was held in Brazil, the hosts will be eager to repeat a similar success.
Brazil boasts of a versatile powerful squad and under Luiz Felipe Scholari, they are a determined side who start the tournament as favourites. With European countries subjected to extreme weather conditions, the likes of Brazil and Argentina will try to eke out an advantage.
Brazil has centred their hopes around Barcelona forward and the country`s icon, Neymar. The 21-year-old will face a lot of pressure in meting out the nation`s expectations but given their team, Brazil look likely to fulfil them. What will be interesting is to see that the players play freely and enjoy the game which could be a decisive factor in determining success.
With ongoing protests in major cities against the excessive spendings for the event amidst financial and employment crunch, it will be a perfect way to soften people`s mood and show the hosting was a successful one.
The main test for the hosts will start from the Round of 16 and on their way, they could face holders Spain who are aiming to win a fourth major tournament in a row after winning the European Championships two years ago.
The nation looks set and so are the fans for a month-long extravaganza. In a crazy footballing nation, nothing less than a World Cup trophy win will satisfy its people.
For Scholari`s troops, there lies the biggest test and will they pass it with flying colours is the big debate.
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