As hosts of the 2014 World Cup, Brazil have been installed as favourites to lift the trophy for an unprecedented sixth time but while home advantage should give them an edge in testing conditions, does the squad have enough quality to justify the bookies’ faith?
Brazil head the outright winner market at odds of 4.00 with the sports betting exchange WBX and they have a comfortable margin over second favourites Argentina at 5.90. As the home nation, Felipe Scolari’s men have not had to progress through a qualify phase but as we’ve seen at many past tournaments, the lack of competitive football is rarely a barrier to success.
We wait for news of Scolari’s squad but the likelihood is that veteran keeper Julio Cesar is the trusted man between the posts. The 34 year old is Scolari’s first choice but has hardly played any senior football in the last 12 months and after an unimpressive spell in England with Queens Park Rangers, his form is certainly in doubt.
Brazilian sides aren’t exactly renowned for having a resolute defence but the back four promises to be as solid as any of the main competitors. Scolari is in the enviable position of being able to call upon some of the most famous names in European football including Dani Alves, Marcelo, Dante and the skipper Thiago Silva. All have enjoyed strong seasons with their respective clubs and if other nations are expecting Brazil to be vulnerable at the back, they are set to be disappointed.
Scolari will be hoping that Tottenham’s Sandro can regain full fitness and provide more of a defensive edge in midfield where a balance between creativity and tough tackling needs to be addressed. While defenders have been in good form for their respective clubs, the midfield hasn’t enjoyed such productive campaigns.
Sandro’s club team mate Paulinho has endured a mixed season for Spurs and there is talk of the 25 year old being sold on after just one year at White Hart Lane. Elsewhere, Oscar has looked impressive for Chelsea but his Stamford Bridge colleagues Ramires and Willian have been very inconsistent and could be a weak link.
Manchester City’s Fernandinho, and Shakhtar’s Bernard may have to take more responsibility if the Chelsea trio fail to find their best form.
In attack, Neymar has taken a little time to settle in after joining Barcelona from Santos in May 2013. A return of nine goals from 25 league matches is a little disappointing but things are getting much better for strike partner Hulk over in Russia. After an unsettling time with Zenit St Petersburg, the 27 year olds’ goals to game ratio is steadily improving.
Traditionally, Brazilian sides have been built on creative, attacking players while the defence has always been a little vulnerable. This time around however, the country’s back four will be one of the most solid at the World Cup but the midfield and the strike force needs a collective improvement in form if the host nation is to justify its tag as pre-tournament favourites.
If however you still feel like Brazil will not win the World Cup, you can use WBX to ‘Lay’ a bet against them. If any of the other 31 teams hoist the trophy your bet will win. WBX offers live betting and has no premium charges as well as lower commissions than Betfair.