You could say the situation in the run-up to the FIFA Confederations Cup was somewhat unusual. For the first time since the Copa America in 1997, the team that has dominated the last decade are going into an international tournament without being the holders. But no matter at what stage and under what conditions a Brazilian team make an appearance, they will always be regarded as favourites to win. Which may go part of the way to explaining why they have not gathered quite as many international titles as usual just recently. For many of their rivals, winning against Brazil or even knocking them out of a competition is something very special. Having topped the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings for almost seven years now, the Brazilians, along with World and European Champions France, are the be-all and and-all in world football.
A further factor to be taken into consideration is the enormous pressure exerted by public opinion and the Brazilian media, making it difficult for any national coach to implement long-term development or restructuring programmes. So it came as no surprise when Wanderley Luxemburgo was replaced by former international goalkeeper Emerson Leao following a decidedly average start to the World Cup qualifying campaign . Like his predecessors before him, Leao is able to draw upon a seemingly endless supply of talent, which is demonstrated by the fact that some 50 players have already made an appearance in the qualifiers so far.
Despite this enormous reservoir of talent the Brazilians have for some time been searching for a prolific goalscorer capable of filling in for the long-term convalescent Ronaldo. The fact that Romario, still indispensable at the age of 35, and the incomparable Rivaldo have scored almost half of the Brazilian goals in the current World Cup qualifiers speaks volumes. At the age of 30, right-back Cafú of AS Rome would also appear to be irreplaceable, whereas pressure is being exerted on Ronaldinho and others to repeat the performances they displayed at the Copa America two years ago. However, the make-up and return of the team appearing at the FIFA Confederations Cup will in the end largely depend upon which of the players under contract to European clubs will be able to make the trip to the Far East.