Much to the relief of everybody involved, coach Paulo Cesar de Oliveira's Brazil have borne the pressure of being the favourites and host nation to reach the final of the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2008. Though perfectly positioned to reclaim the crown they lost eight years ago in Guatemala, up against them in the tournament decider will be the Seleção's very own futsal bogey team: Spain.
Having been beaten by the Europeans in the final of Guatemala 2000 and the semi-finals at Chinese Taipei 2004, La Roja claiming the world title on both occasions, will they get their revenge this time around? "That's not a word that I like to use, but I'd be lying if I said this match didn't have a special edge to it," Brazil captain Vinicius, a member of that 2004 squad, told FIFA.com.
"We've been preparing for this a long time, we've made a lot of sacrifices along the way and we're on the verge of a significant achievement."
Fresh from a hard-fought 4-2 semi-final win over Russia, the Auriverde skipper was full of praise for his side's beaten opponents. "We weren't at all surprised by how well the Russians played," says the no7.
"On the contrary, they put in the performance we'd expected from them in the first round (when Brazil won 7-0). They've got a lot of quality, they're one of the best teams in Europe and against us they showed how good they really are."
And how have Brazil managed to meet every challenge head on so far at this tournament? "Because we're more clinical (than our opponents) and we're able to understand the way a game is going," says the 30-year-old wide man.
"Sometimes the fans looking on think that we're not playing particularly well, but it's all about being able to control each period during a match. You don't have to have the ball all the time and be constantly starting moves; you just need to be effective once the opposition goal is in range."
Nor was the Brazil skipper afraid to touch upon a potentially sensitive subject: the demanding nature of the Brazilian faithful. "We know how high the standard of world futsal is nowadays, but maybe those in the crowd don't. It's understandable, they're here to judge us, but we can't go judging them - it's one of sport's unwritten rules," says Vinicius. "However, we'll just carry on doing our job regardless."
Vinicius is one of eight members of the Brazil squad currently playing his club futsal in Spain, and is therefore perfectly placed to analyse the Seleção's final opponents. "They are a truly great team and I've learnt a lot from them. Their approach is based on teamwork: the players all put the team first and that makes them very strong," says the El Pozo player, who shares a dressing room in Murcia with Spanish stars Alvaro, Kike, Marcelo and Juanjo. "Spain are always perfectly prepared, they know how to read every moment of each game so they are very dangerous."
When asked how the Brazil squad of 2004 compares with the current crop, Vinicius had this to say: "I'm not a big fan of making comparisons, but that team was lacking that extra bit of preparation needed to compete with the big teams. And I think that's what has made the difference with this current side. Now we feel ready to take on anybody at any time."
"I worked my whole life to become a world champion, it's a dream that is very close to becoming reality," concludes Vinicius, as Sunday's grand finale fast approaches. "Winning would be glorious."