Brazil

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Brazil has been waiting for this moment for the past 64 years. Ever since THAT final at the Maracana on 16 July 1950, when Uruguay pipped the hosts to the World Cup title. The Curse of the Maracana continues to haunt the country. Five cup triumphs on foreign soil have not healed the scars. When Brazil take to the stage against Croatia, the curse will be at the back of everyone’s mind. But coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has groomed a squad that can lift the spirits. Scolari is no stranger to winning the World Cup — he led Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Co to glory in 2002. The current crop have oodles of quality, the only missing ingredient seems to be team chemistry. At the back, Brazil have robust players who are comfortable on the ball. PSG’s Thiago Silva will patrol the defence with new club mate David Luiz. Brazilian teams are always known for the prowess of their full-backs, and in Dani Alves and Marcelo, they have two of the best in business. Paulinho and Luiz Gustavo are likely to shield the defence, while Oscar is Scolari’s preferred playmaker. But the star of the show is Neymar. The 22-year-old forward has not reached the lofty heights set by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but this is the perfect stage for him to do that, or maybe even eclipse them.

 

brazil

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