While the five-time global kings have graced the FIFA World Cup™ with some of the best players and most dazzling performances ever seen on the sport's grandest stage, they have never managed to replicate those golden moments at the Men's Olympic Football Tournament.
A Seleção were bronze medallists in 2008, but this weekend's showdown with Mexico will be their first Olympic final since 1988, when a team led by Romario and Bebeto finished with the silver. The South Americans also won the silver in the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, but the failure to bring home a gold has rankled with such a proud football nation for decades.
Brazil's Olympic angst has increased since Argentina won gold in Beijing four years ago, and the prospect of taking the top prize previously held by their arch-rivals, who failed to qualify for football at London 2012, has only increased the motivation in Menezes's squad. Brazil are unbeaten in their five matches, scoring three times in each game to take their tally to 15 goals en route to the final.
The pick of the bunch have been Chelsea's new playmaker Oscar, Santos attacker Neymar and Internacional striker Leandro Damiao, who struck twice in the semi-final win over Korea Republic. With that trio in such inspired form, Menezes has been able to give only cameo roles to top-class talents like Porto's Hulk and AC Milan's Alexandre Pato, while Lucas Moura has often failed to get off the bench. But Menezes knows the dangers of allowing his much-praised players to rest on their laurels against a Mexico side going for a first gold in their maiden Olympic final.
"I expect a very difficult final," said the former Gremio and Corinthians coach."Mexico have prepared well. Their U-23 side played in the Copa America and the Pan-American Games. Now they have added their three over-aged players (Jose Corona, Carlos Salcido and Oribe Peralta) they look very strong.
"The [Brazil] players are very calm, not over-euphoric about being in the final. But our team should be congratulated, they have come a long way since May when they were nowhere, and now they are in an Olympic final. It has been 24 years since Brazil have been in the final, which shows how difficult it is to get there."
Marcelo up for the fight
Left-wingback Marcelo summed up the desire within Brazil's ranks as he revealed the desire to win gold has consumed every member of the squad since the first day of their Olympic preparations.
"We have all been thinking about the gold medal since 9 July," said the Real Madrid player. "We want gold, the crowd also wants gold, and everyone in Brazil wants it. We are going to fight to win. We are going to leave our skin on the pitch to defend our country."