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SquadEdit

Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Toronto FC), Jefferson (Botafogo), Victor (Atletico Mineiro)

Defenders: Marcelo (Real Madrid), Daniel Alves (Barcelona), Maicon (AS Roma), Maxwell, Thiago Silva (both Paris St Germain), David Luiz (Chelsea), Dante (Bayern Munich), Henrique (Napoli)

Midfielders: Paulinho (Tottenham Hotspur), Ramires, Willian, Oscar (all Chelsea), Hernanes (Inter Milan), Luiz Gustavo (VfL Wolfsburg), Fernandinho (Manchester City)

Forwards: Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk), Neymar (Barcelona), Fred (Fluminense), Jo (Atletico Mineiro), Hulk (Zenit St Petersburg)

Brazil
Edit

Team ProfileEdit

A wave of euphoria will sweep through Brazil when the FIFA World Cup commences and the host nation will be expected to rise to the occasion.

Not since back in 1950 have the South American country staged the World Cup finals and that tournament ended in disappointment for football-mad Brazilians.

Uruguay spoiled the party 64 years ago, meaning the current crop of Brazil players have the opportunity to become world champions on home soil for the first time.

Should Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men achieve that feat, they will surely spark a party to end all parties.

Brazil have won the World Cup on five occasions, more than any other country, but know a sixth triumph on home soil would be extra special.

Last year’s FIFA Confederations Cup success raised hopes that they will be capable of succeeding on the biggest stage of all during difficult times in the country.

Political unrest led to riots during the Confederations Cup, which overshadowed the tournament to some extent, while preparations for the World Cup have attracted widespread criticism due to delays in the construction of stadiums and several workers being killed following accidents at a number of the venues.

Scolari will want his side to produce positive publicity when they get the eagerly-awaited tournament under way with a Group A clash against Croatia at Arena de Sao Paolo on June 12.

Much is expected of the prodigiously talented Neymar, but the forward has not enjoyed the best of starts to his Barcelona career following a big-money move from Santos.

He was the star of the show in Brazil’s Confederations Cup success, though, scoring four goals in five games and rising to the occasion with a man-of-the-match performance in the final against Spain.

The 22-year-old won the competition's Golden Ball award as a result and Scolari will be expecting big things from a player boasting silky skills and vast natural talent.

The charismatic Scolari also shoulders huge expectations, having masterminded World Cup glory in 2002.

Doubts have been raised over whether Brazil are equipped to secure further success at football's grandest showpiece, but they will certainly be looked upon to embark on a run to the latter stages of the tournament, at the very least.

Prolific striker Diego Costa snubbed Brazil, his country of birth, to pledge his allegiances to world champions Spain, but Scolari still has an array of talented players at his disposal.

Julio Cesar is in the twilight of his career but remains a top-class goalkeeper, while Thiago Silva can be expected to provide solidity at the heart of the defence and marauding right-back Dani Alves will be a constant menace to opposing defences.

Striker Fred may not possess the pedigree of legendary predecessors such as Ronaldo or Romario, but he led the line impressively in the Confederations Cup and scored five goals – including two in the final against the world and European champions.

Scolari can also call upon a number of gifted midfielders, including Fernandinho, Oscar and Paulinho, while the powerful figure of Hulk provides another attacking threat.

Brazil face Mexico and Cameroon as well as first opponents Croatia in Group A.

And if they build momentum early in the tournament, with passionate supporters behind them, it could prove very difficult to halt their momentum in the knockout stages.


Player Profile (Neymar)Edit

Position: Forward

Date of Birth: February 5, 1992

Club: Barcelona

International Debut: v United States (August 10, 2010)

World Cup Appearances: 0

World Cup Goals: 0

Neymar has long been billed as a future star, but Brazilians are no longer interested in what the forward can achieve in years to come.

Much has been made of the pressure on the mercurial Barcelona man to inspire the host nation to glory at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

But when he lines up for the opening game of the tournament against Croatia at the Arena de Sao Paulo on June 12, there will be a demand rather than an expectation on the 22-year-old to take centre stage.

In the eyes of the country's football-obsessed supporters, the time is now for the poster-boy of the Brazilian game to deliver on the world stage, four years after he scored on his international debut against the United States.

Neymar, christened Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, rose to the occasion when the host nation won the FIFA Confederations Cup last year, but that was merely a dress rehearsal for the main event.

The onus will be firmly on him as Brazil's talisman, with his mesmerising skills, elegance and ability to conjure up something out of nothing.

The days when he was talked of as the next big thing seem a distant memory - the latest in a seemingly never-ending production line of naturally gifted footballers to come out of South America.

So it is hard to believe that Neymar is still so young that the question is asked: will this be his time to shine?

After being nurtured at Santos, there was constant speculation over a big-money move to Europe before he finally agreed a five-year deal with Barcelona and joined the Catalan giants ahead of the 2013-14 season.

He has since shown glimpses of his talent in his debut campaign at Camp Nou, although he has arguably not yet taken Spanish football by storm.

That will not dampen the expectations in his homeland, where he is an icon due to the silky skills and ability to torment opponents that Brazilians have become accustomed to over the years.

The legendary Pele expressed concerns with the weight of the nation's hopes being placed on one man’s shoulders, but Neymar appeared to thrive on the pressure during the Confederations Cup and he can boast an impressive goalscoring record at international level.

Neymar won the Golden Ball, awarded to the best player in the tournament, as the host nation won the Confederations Cup for a third consecutive time by beating Spain 3-0 in the final.

The Mogi das Cruzes-born prodigy lived up to all the hype that had surrounded him by scoring four goals in the competition - including a stunning strike in the final - and producing some dazzling displays, but he will be under far more scrutiny when he makes his way onto the biggest stage of all.

It is easy to overlook the fact that Neymar will be playing in his first World Cup finals, after he missed out on the squad for the 2010 showpiece in South Africa.

And as if the weight of expectation were not already enough, he is also set to don the famous number 10 shirt - worn by Pele - and with that honour comes additional responsibility to be Brazil's talisman and tormentor-in-chief.

Regardless of his performances it seems highly likely that, given his age, Neymar will feature in at least a few more FIFA World Cup finals before his career is done.

He will, though, almost certainly not play in another on home soil.

And so as an expectant nation prepares for football's greatest showpiece, the time has come for the boy wonder to step up and be Brazil's main man.

News SourcesEdit

http://riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/category/rio-sports/

http://www.uol.com.br/

http://globoesporte.globo.com/

http://www.terra.com.br/portal/

http://sportv.globo.com/site/