Brazil face possible group of death in World Cup draw
The selecao under coach Luiz Felipe Scolari will play the tournament’s opening game in Sao Paulo on June 12 - and the hosts are now only waiting to hear the name of their opponents in Group A.
Organisers have now confirmed the procedure for the draw, which follows a 90-minute show to be televised live around the world from a 9,000-square-metre tent at the Atlantic coastal resort of Costa do Sauipe near Salvador.
The way teams have been distributed into four pots throws up the possibility of a “group of death” for the hosts.
World champions Spain and fancied sides such as Germany will also be hoping to avoid tough European opponents such as Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, France or England.
For Brazil, there is the danger of facing two top unseeded European teams. One European team from pot 4, which contains nine unseeded European teams, will be initially drawn to go into pot 2 - where they will then be drawn to face one of the four seeded South American sides - Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay or Colombia.
That group will also get a second unseeded European team from pot 4. A line-up of Brazil, Italy, Portugal (or perhaps say France, England and Netherlands) and a top Asian team such as Japan is therefore a scenario for the hosts - even if Scolari won’t be fazed by big-name opponents.
Scolari led Brazil to the 2002 world title, and returned to the helm in late November 2012 to revive a previous moribund side.
Roared on by a passionate home crowd, Brazil won the Confederations Cup in the summer by beating world champions Spain in the final and are now confident they can go all the way next summer on home soil.
The home advantage and Brazil’s improvement, with new star Neymar the hero of the current generation, make the selecao a top favourite.
Moreover Brazil, who hosted the 1950 World Cup when they lost the final game to Uruguay, can now celebrate a World Cup of the modern era in what it considers to be the game’s spiritual home.
“Football is our biggest passion, like music, but even more. We are born and grow up dreaming about being football players,” Brazil great Ronaldo said.
History favours the South Americans: no European team has won a World Cup in four previous tournaments in South America, or on the three others played on the American continent - in the United States and two in Mexico.
The climatic conditions - hot and humid in the north, wintry in the south - and exhausting travelling will not favour the European game.
Brazil is experiencing several difficulties in the run up to the tournament, chiefly the issue of incomplete stadiums. But once the event starts, there’s little doubt it will be a big party. When it comes to the World Cup, there is no place like Brazil, whether they are in the group of death or not.