Brazil are hosts and favorites but can they live up to the huge expectations placed upon them by their fans? Phil Kitromilides analyses their chances and picks his best betIn 1996 England fans sang "Football's coming home" as the nation hosted the European Championships, but for many neutrals this summer is when the game truly returns to its spiritual home as Brazil host the World Cup for the first time since 1950.
Expectations are understanbly sky-high for the hosts and home advantage could play a key role in propelling the South Americans to their sixth world title.
The bookmakers price them as the favourites with bet365 offering them at 11/4 (3.25) and with no side from outside the continent ever triumphing in a tournament held in South America, history is on Brazil's side.
As hosts, Luis Felipe Scolari's men have been spared the often brutal journey that is CONMEBOL qualifying, yet that has seen them playing some pretty insipid friendlies over the last few years.
The likes of South Korea, Zambia and South Africa have been unable to really test Brazil, although in fairness the side have also faced Chile, Portugal and Switzerland over the last 12 months, with the latter inflicting the only defeat on Scolari's men in 19 matches.
Lifting last summer's Confederations Cup showed that Brazil are capable of performing with aplomb as a team and while their squad may not be as sparkling as in previous years there is a functionality to go with the inherent flair which may serve them in good stead.
There was no place for Kaka or Robinho but the midfield looks supremely strong for Brazil with Fernandinho, Paulinho, Ramires, Willian and Oscar all showing their capacity to shine at one point or another during the Premier League season.
Up front things are less convincing, with superstar Neymar having an intermittent first season at Barcelona and the likes of Jo, Fred and Hulk not necessarily the kind of world beaters one would expect from a Brazil side.
The price of 16/1 (17.00) for Neymar to be top scorer and Brazil to win looks optimisitic, while the 1/4 (1.25) for them to win their group consisting of Croatia Mexico and Cameroon is understandably short. More worthy of consideration could be the price of 5/6 (1.83) for the hosts to reach the semi-final stage and while Brazil could potentially have a tricky last 16 clash, seeing them exit in before the semi-finals would be a real surprise.
|Brazil's World Cup Squad - 33/1 with bet365|
|David Luiz||Luiz Gustavo|
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