With burgeoning talent throughout the pitch, a World Cup-winning manager and a home-soil advantage, Brazil are undoubtedly the favorites to hoist the prestigious World Cup trophy in Rio de Janeiro in 2014.
The five-time champions have struggled in the last two tournaments by their lofty standards, failing to reach the semifinals in both Germany and South Africa.
But the staggering amount of young talent coming out of Brazil is beginning to gel together, as evidenced during the Selecao's 3-0 drubbing of Spain in the Confederations Cup final in June. With Luiz Felipe Scolari, who led Brazil to a World Cup victory in 2002, back at the helm, and a nation supporting them in person, Brazil have sky-high expectations.
Now that the all-important draw is set, let's take a closer look at their path to a sixth title.
The Brazilians, as tends to happen with the World Cup hosts, were gifted with a relatively easy draw, although it's not a cakewalk. They match up well with all three teams, although Mexico and Croatia will test them, and Cameroon could push them as well if Brazil are caught sleeping.
Croatia's style of play should make for a fascinating matchup, as their defensive style could slow the Brazilian attack. Mexico have the talent to make a deep run, and Cameroon have the talent to push them. But none of those teams have the depth or the talent to score a win on Brazil's home turf.
Ultimately, though, given their talent, the Selecao should have little trouble winning this group and advancing.
|Date||Arena||Time (Local)||Time (ET)||Opponent|
|June 12||Arena de Sao Paulo||5 p.m.||4 p.m.||Croatia|
|June 17||Estadio Castelao||4 p.m.||3 p.m.||Mexico|
|June 23||Estadio Nacional||5 p.m.||4 p.m.||Cameroon|
GK: Julio Cesar
RB: Dani Alves
CB: Thiago Silva
CB: David Luiz
DM: Luiz Gustavo
GK: Jefferson, Victor
DF: Dante, Maxwell, Maicon, Adriano
MF: Ramires, Lucas Leiva, Hernanes
F: Robinho, Jo
GK: Diego Alves, Diego Cavalieri
DF: Marquinhos, Andre Santos, Filipe Luis,
Much of the roster depends on Scolari's formation. For now, we'll go with the 4-2-3-1, something that the he has employed on several occasions.
The back four is pretty much set unless a significant injury occurs, although players like Maxwell and Maicon started on the outside against Chile and will certainly draw consideration for starting spots. Dante has been playing well for Bayern Munich and should be in the mix in the center.
What formation will Scolari deploy most in Brazil?
Up front, this lineup would see Fred, who has been quite productive in a Brazilian shirt, up front with Hulk, Neymar and Oscar operating behind him.
It's worth noting, though, that any of those players are versatile options who can fill in space as necessary behind whoever is playing up front.
Should Scolari decide to change things up, he could move to a 4-4-2, 4-2-2-2 or even a 3-5-2, with which he has had success in the past.
No matter what formation he finally settles on, though, one thing is clear: He will have plenty of choices.
The Brazilians have an absurd amount of depth—most countries would love to have players such as Sandro, Willian, Lucas Moura, Leandro Damiao and others whom Scolari may have to leave off the roster—and versatility, which will make them nearly impossible to plan for.