Brazil legend Zico has said that he is worried about Lionel Messi's Argentina but makes his own nation favourites to lift the FIFA World Cup™ on home soil in July.
The star of Brazil's exciting 1982 World Cup side, which slipped up against eventual champions Italy, said today's side are well placed to take the trophy. Even so, he said there would be pressure for them to perform before a fanatical home support.
But he said: "That's normal; there's always pressure playing for your country. France, Argentina, England, Germany and Italy have won at home - whereas Brazil haven't."
Brazil famously lost the deciding game in 1950 in the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro to Uruguay. "If the other (host winners) had that pressure and won then why shouldn't Brazil," Zico, now 60, argued.
Today's generation is, he says, less flamboyant than previous Brazil teams. "They don't play the beautiful game - they play efficiently. Well, Neymar plays beautiful stuff," he reflected, adding that coach Luiz Felipe Scolari knows how to obtain a winning blend.
They don't play the beautiful game - they play efficiently.
He added that a crushing FIFA Confederations Cup win over Spain "has given motivation and confidence to fans and the team to go out and land the World Cup."
Standing in their way could be Argentina, who can boast Messi's mercurial talents, he warned. "Argentina are Brazil's big rival owing to Messi. He can pull the strings and take Argentina to the title."
One thing which has impressed Zico is the refurbishment of the Maracana, which will host the July 13 final. "It is wonderful, beautiful," he enthused.
Zico's generation was widely considered the most attractive Brazil has produced aside from the 1970 vintage led by Pele. Asked if he regretted not lifting the World Cup, Zico said: "I tried hard to ensure it would happen but so many players haven't won it. You can't be selfish and want everything in life.
"I was at three World Cups and lost one game, never getting to a final. But that's football."