Brazil 2014: Luiz Felipe Scolari's Men Will Have Enough in the Tank for Victory

Trevor Murray@@TrevorM90Contributor IJuly 1, 2014

Luiz Felipe Scolari can lead his team to glory this summer.
Luiz Felipe Scolari can lead his team to glory this summer.Associated Press

While the emotional and mental pressures on the host nation are often tantamount to something much more physical, it's difficult to appreciate just how great that feeling really is.

There have been countless column inches written about just how important this tournament is to the Brazilian people, and although their players haven't fully delivered just yet, they ought to have just enough to pull through.

With a hugely draining round-of-16 match against a combative and relentless Chile side thankfully now behind them, Luiz Felipe Scolari's team can finally start to focus on planning for the matches ahead.

Obviously, the Selecao would be forgiven for taking a few hours to appreciate the manner in which they pushed past Jorge Sampaoli's mensnatching victory from the jaws of defeat in a thrilling penalty shootout under the watchful eyes of thousands of relieved fans.

Undoubtedly under more strain than any other side in the competition, it's a wonder they've been receiving as many negative reviews as they have.

But now they can put all that behind them and start afresh.

Granted, their opening-day victory over Croatia left a lot to be desired. Technically and structurally, they were a disorganised mess that looked incredibly vulnerable at the back, without enough threat from midfield. They were also relying far too heavily on Neymar.

Fast-forward through their confident 4-1 win over Cameroon and on to their second-round triumph, and it's clear that they are improving as a unit.

While cynics might suggest otherwise, there can't be any denying Brazil's positive results. Time and again, they've managed to do enough to avoid defeat.

And, to put it bluntlyand disappointingly from the perspective of fans that love champions to play with zest and flairnot losing after the group stage is all you need to do at the World Cup.

According to John Leicester of the Associated Press, the omens don't look good. Their spot-kick heroics underlined that Brazil were struggling, heading almost for a buckling performance in the very near future that would end all hopes of silverware:

The abridged version of this furiously paced, draining, and high-stakes match of wind-up tension that carried Brazil to the quarterfinal will read: aging goalkeeper on the backend of an impressive career prevents the World Cup hosts from tumbling into the abyss.

Of course, it's easy to see all the negatives. They're plain to see right nowglaringly so.

But it's up to Scolari and his team of tacticians and coaches to not only take those shortcomings onboard, but pinpoint the positives they've displayed, too.

Frank Augstein/Associated Press

That is the hard partzoning in on the aspects of their game that work and moving towards improving them.

Reflecting back on Hulk's performance last week underlined just how uplifting the pressure can also prove to be.

A player who has failed to produce the goods for the national team time and again, the Zenit St Petersburg striker really rose to the occasion to give the followers of the famous yellow shirt something to shout about.

In short, he gave them a real bite up front for much of the 90 minutes of normal time and took some of the weight of expectation off young Neymar's shoulders.

Often absent when needed most, the 27-year-old discarded his tag as ineffective and tested Claudio Bravo more than once, even managing to rattle the netalthough it was soon chalked off after the linesman flagged for offside.

Empowered rather than crushed, Hulk took the criticism in his stride and used it as fuel for an unexpectedly fantastic shift on the offensive.

In fact, it's quite easy to see why he could fill the void they clearly possess up front.

First-choice striker Fred has been poor so far, while Jo showed little during his short cameo. So, Hulk should perhaps be rewarded with a role up front. Assisted by the innovative and often genius Neymar, they might just be the deadly duo Brazil desperately need to gift them back their magnificence.

Also championing the former Porto man's cause to be selected as the primary starting striker instead of a winger is Shahan Ahmed from Yahoo Sports:

Regardless of who starts on the wing, Brazil has a growing problem at striker. With the Brazilian manager finally showing signs of accepting change, perhaps he will finally accept that the best solution is Hulk. After all, starting Hulk at striker would benefit both the player and the team.

With a testing match-up to come against Colombia in the quarter-final, this will be yet another chance for the critics to downplay the Canarinho's chances of doing what Zizinho and Ademir failed to achieve back in 1950, when they fell to a publicly denounced 2-1 victory at the Estadio do Maracana.

For many, the stage is set for them to fail just as their predecessors did 64 years ago.

But while this has been a World Cup of shock exits and dramatic upsets, the mentality of this side is perhaps best embodied by the manner in which they won the Confederations Cup in 2013 and the continued battle-cry rhetoric of their players.

Though their history of remaining unbeaten, competitively, for over 39 years at home could be seen as yet another lofty statistic that only serves to cause more adversity than it does patriotic strength, one thing it does underline is how brutally staunch their defence of that record has always been.

Most revealing of all, however, was Barcelona star Neymar's choice of words following their most recent win.

"We know that it was not one of our best matches but the desire to win and get through to the next round that we showed was huge. It was the most I have ever suffered in football," he told reporters.

With such hunger and determination in the face of such expectancy, surely they can make history and go all the way. There's a sense of prophecy about it all.

After all, young Brazilians know all about stepping up to the plate at football's most challenging contest.

Just ask Pele.


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