Brazil entered the 2014 World Cup with enormous pressure and high expectations placed on their shoulders, being the host nation and having gone without lifting the ultimate prize since 2002.
The South American nation are the all-time holders of the World Cup, the biggest and best prize on offer in international football, while they are the only country ever to feature at every single edition of the competition since its inception.
Their first victory came back in 1958, before wins followed in all of 1962, 1970, 1994 and the aforementioned 2002 success, when the roster included the likes of Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Cafu and Ronaldinho.
The Samba side are now regarded as the 4/1 favourites in the World Cup winner odds from Paddy Power in the latest tournament, having arrived on Russian territory boasting fine form from international friendlies and an encouraging roster full of talent.
Under the guidance of experienced new coach Tite, Brazil will be gunning for the ultimate glory once again, something which has eluded them for 14 years now. There have been close calls throughout their wait for the biggest prize, which the fans and those back in Brazil feel always belongs to them. This includes falling short at the final hurdle on two occasions, losing to close rivals Uruguay in the 1950 competition and then being beaten by the host nation France in the 1998 edition.
In 2014, the side were truly embarassed and exited their home competition at the hands of eventual champions Germany in devastating fashion. With Neymar sidelined through injury, along with solid centre back and then-skipper Thiago Silva, Brazil were destroyed 7-1 by Joachim Low’s rampant Germany outfit, as they ran riot and caused incredible scenes in front of the bemused Brazilian supporters.
So can Brazil now banish those sickening memories that continue to haunt fans and hang over the nation? There is a wealth of talent across all areas of the pitch at Tite’s disposal this summer in Russia, from Neymar and co. in attack to Roma shot-stopper Alisson Becker between the posts.
PSG superstar Neymar will be the leading light and main man for the Samba Boys for sure, with the Brazilian goalscoring icon set to enter proceedings with huge pressure on his young shoulders. The Ligue 1 hitman was ruled out for the season at club level back in February but recently made a welcome return to action against Croatia in an international friendly encounter.
He returned to the fray and netted the opener in typically sublime style in an eventual 2-0 triumph over the Croatians and now looks set to work his magic once again in Russia for his nation. He will be key to any silverware success on their travels but the likes of Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho, Fred and Fernandinho will also be crucial, among many others.
So, as the memories of that harrowing 7-1 defeat to Germany continue to linger over Brazil, Tite’s current crop of Samba stars hold a great opportunity to banish such a nightmare by rallying to a historic sixth World Cup success on their Russian ventures.