World Cup Year Is Upon Us: How 2014 Will Define Brazilian Identity

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World Cup Year Is Upon Us: How 2014 Will Define Brazilian Identity
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Brazil is the most successful nation in the history of international football. The most celebrated in coming as close to creating a “brand” of football as anyone is ever likely to.

Since the 1970 World Cup winning side, considered one of, if not the, best team in the history of the sport, Brazilian teams have carried a conflated pressure and stigma about their seemingly God-given ability to entertain inside the four white lines.

Since that team, that boasted the likes of Pele, Jairzinho and Carlos Alberto Torres, the Selecao Brasileira have gone on to win just two more World Cups, in 1994 and 2002.

Nevertheless that still gives them five title wins, and they remain the only country to have participated in every World Cup tournament.

This year, the pressure will arguably be greater than ever.

Brazil have hosted the World Cup once before, in 1950. The script was supposed to allow for the nation's first global triumph, on home soil, at the brand new Maracana Stadium.

But they were upset in the final by Uruguay, who shocked the 200,000 present with a 2-1 win. The country's supposed destiny had been destroyed by a nation only a fraction of Brazil's immense size. It would be eight years until Brazil lifted the trophy.

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Luiz Felipe Scolari has the chance to win his second World Cup with Brazil

This year, Luiz Felipe Scolari and his charges have the opportunity to right a 64-year-old voodoo. Expectation levels have been boosted by an excellent Confederations Cup campaign.

The side scored 14 goals in five games and have won their last six friendlies, including wins against Portugal and Chile.

But it is home advantage, and righting the failure of the last occasion Brazil hosted the FIFA tournament, that weigh heavily on the country's conscious. Ultimately, triumph on the pitch will determine whether the 2014 World Cup was a success or not for Brazil.

There have been a barrage of negative headlines about several items that have not gone according to plan with World Cup preparations. Delays on stadiums, airport renovations and a lack of hotel rooms have dominated national and international news.

Brazilian Minister for Sport Aldo Rebelo famously quipped that the bride never arrives at the church on time. It had to be pointed out to him that in this context the stadium is the church, not the bride.

But if Brazil lift a sixth World Cup, any problems with infrastructure or logistics can be swept under the carpet.

Global media attention will be on Brazil. The country famed for their football prowess. Only by winning the competition on home soil can they prove that tag is not just an empty slogan.

Brazil's last two World Cup showings have been an utter disappointment, but 2006 was as surprising as it was painful. Boasting an attacking quartet of Ronaldo, Adriano, Kaka and Ronaldinho, the side was expected to go all the way in style.

Instead, they fell limply to France in the quarter-final, with a 35-year-old Zinedine Zidane making the planet's greatest player of the time, Ronaldinho, look pedestrian.

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Oscar is one of a new crop of playmakers who can lead Brazil to World Cup glory

In 2010 they also bowed out at the quarter-final stage, but were not the same exciting team of four years previously.

The current crop has lost the charge of “golden generation,” which now belongs to the record-breaking Spanish side and the young, up-and-coming German national team.

But in the likes of Oscar, Bernard and Neymar, Brazil have the kind of match-winning individuals capable of turning a game on its axis with one piece of magic. And in a seven-match tournament that makes anything possible.

For the world, Brazil will be defined by their success in hosting two enormous sporting tournaments; the World Cup this year before Rio de Janeiro hosts the Olympic Games in 2016.

But for Brazil, winning the World Cup is the only outcome imaginable. To reassert themselves as the footballing nation on the planet.

To right the wrongs of 1950, that still resonate so loudly throughout their football annals. To write a new chapter for the current generation of daring playmakers the country are releasing on the world.

In 2014, sporting destiny awaits.

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