World Cup Could Benefit If Brazil Were Knocked out by Colombia

Nick MillerFeatured ColumnistJuly 4, 2014

Brazil's Neymar gestures during a training session in Fortaleza, Brazil, Thursday, July 3, 2014. Brazil will face Colombia on Friday in a quarterfinal soccer match at the World Cup. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Felipe Dana/Associated Press

There is, quite understandably, a sentimental pull toward Brazil at this World Cup.

The tournament is being hosted in the most historically successful footballing nation there has been, where football perhaps means more to the average person than it does anywhere else in the world.

Then, add the memory of the Maracanazo, when Brazil lost in the final game of the 1950 tournament to Uruguay, a defeat that sent an entire country into a state of mourning.

The opportunity to redeem a whole country is one that is clearly weighing on the minds of Brazil's players.

One of the most notable aspects of their campaign has been how emotional their players have been, not only breaking down after their win on penalties over Chile in the second round but also even before the matches—Neymar in particular bursting into tears during the pre-match national anthems.

Indeed, this has proved a topic of some consternation in Brazil, with the likes of World Cup-winning captain Carlos Alberto criticising exactly how emotional the squad were. He said, as quoted by Eurosport: "The team is crying when they're singing the national anthem, when they get hurt, when they take penalties. Stop crying!"

Indeed, Luis Felipe Scolari has employed a psychologist to basically help calm his players down ahead of their quarter-final against Colombia, as per BBC Sport.

All of this adds up to a sense that the World Cup story will be incomplete without Brazil winning it at home, and this will be their last chance in a generation or more to do so.

Frank Augstein/Associated Press

However, we should not, as neutrals, allow ourselves to be caught up in this story. Indeed, the World Cup would arguably be better if Brazil lost to Colombia on Friday.

A tournament obviously loses something when the hosts go out too early. Take South Africa in 2010, who exited prematurely at the group stage, and the atmosphere in a country like that obviously suffered from the hosts being knocked out.

The World Cup is, after all, a celebration of football, and any party without the hosts has the edge taken off.

However, this World Cup feels different. For a start, Brazil have made it through to the last eight, so if they lose now, then it wouldn't exactly be a tragedy for the game as they have already contributed plenty to the tournament. This would not be a tragic early exit of the sort we witnessed four years ago.

And in any case, this World Cup feels stronger than that. It is a tournament that has had everything, from goals to excitement to controversy. It has been the most exhilarating World Cup in recent memory, and in truth, very little of that has come from the hosts.

Their games have been fraught with tension, and there is little sense that anyone has actually enjoyed playing in those games, so nervous are they all, with only the Chile match being particularly exciting.

Fabrizio Bensch/Associated Press

And then there's the simple notion that Brazil simply haven't been one of the best teams at the tournament so far. Indeed, of the eight quarter-finalists, they have arguably been the worst, struggling through games under the weight of this huge expectation but also because they are not actually that good, Neymar aside.

Hulk flatters to deceive and frankly always has; Oscar's poor second half of the season with Chelsea has continued into the summer; the central midfielders have all been poor (aside from perhaps Luis Gustavo, who will be suspended for the Colombia game); Julio Cesar looks like an accident waiting to happen and the less said about Fred the better.

Colombia have been far more exciting, with James Rodriguez graduating from excellent youngster to fully fledged star, and he has arguably been the player of the tournament so far.

It's true that Colombia perhaps have not been tested yet, but if they beat Brazil then that particular criticism can be well and truly put to bed.

It's understandable to want Brazil to win for sentimental reasons on Friday, but in many respects, it would be better for the tournament if they lost.