World Cup 2014: Brazil national soccer team guide
It almost seems unfair: The five-time World Cup winners and perpetual title contenders finally get to host the event in their own big, passionate, chaotic backyard for the first time in well more than half a century.
After tasting success with a 2013 Confederations Cup trophy, the current squad is eager to prove it can reach the heights of its illustrious forebears and will be roared forward by the home fans of a truly soccer-obsessed country.
WORLD CUP PROSPECTS
The host country, Brazil, enter the World Cup as the team picked by most fans and pundits to hoist the trophy. It would be the fifth time they would win the tournament and the first since 2002. They would also become the first host country to win the World Cup since France in 1998.
They have not had to make too many changes to their squad since their Confederations Cup win and we should expect to see the same starting lineup that Luiz Felipe Scolari put out at that tournament.
Of course we would be remiss to mention all the troubles going on in their country that are sure to be on the players minds when they step out on the field.
GROUP A SCHEDULE
STARS TO WATCH
Neymar Jr., F, FC Barcelona (pictured left): The hottest young superstar off the Brazilian assembly line of attacking talent presently shares the dazzling Barça marquee with global icon Lionel Messi after a $79 million summer transfer from Santos.
Thiago Silva, D, Paris Saint-Germain: Viewed by many as the best defender in the world, the steady center back transferred from AC Milan to France's nouveau riche club in a $56.8 million move last summer and is reportedly making one of the highest salaries in the global game.
Oscar, M, Chelsea: A playmaker to watch this summer. A fluid, elusive player both on and off the ball, but can he seize the reins in truly massive moments?
Luiz Felipe Scolari, or “Felipão” (“Big Phil”) as he is known far and wide, is arguably the biggest character on Brazil's colorful soccer landscape as he guides the Seleção into this tournament for the second time.
A demonstrative, no-nonsense and extremely well-traveled type, Scolari led the boys in yellow to their last World Cup triumph in 2002 but has even less margin for error this time amid immense domestic pressure – and fierce competition from rivals near and far.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
Automatic qualification as hosts.
WORLD CUP HISTORY
World Cups and Brazil go together like samba and drums, or perhaps cachaça, sugar and lime. The South Americans hardly ever miss a chance to vie for top honors on the world's biggest stage and have danced home with the top prize in 1958, 1962 and 1970 (the era of the great Pelé), then returned to greatness with championship runs at USA 1994 and Korea/Japan 2002..
Three years after leading Brazil to a World Cup title on these shores, Carlos Alberto Parreira managed the star-crossed New York/New Jersey MetroStars in 1997 but left the Meadowlands with a losing record like so many other coaches ... Past US stars Cobi Jones and Freddy Adu have spent parts of their club careers in Brazil, Jones with Vasco da Gama and Adu with Bahia ... USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann scheduled a friendly with Brazil in May 2012 (a 4-1 loss at FedEx Field in Landover, Md.) to challenge his side with world-class opposition before the outset of 2014 CONCACAF qualifying ... Brazilian midfielder Kaká has been heavily rumored to be a Designated-Player target for Orlando City SC when the Lions enter MLS in 2015.