Former Brazil star Zico makes his countrymen FIFA World Cup™ favourites -- but warns Uruguay, who wrecked the Seleção's dreams on their last hosting in 1950, are his dark horses.
The former Japan coach particularly hopes Brazil avoid meeting Luis Suarez and company in the final.
"I would prefer to meet Argentina in the final. Not Uruguay," Zico said in Monday's Estado de Sao Paulo. "I think Uruguay could be the only team who could psychologically shake the Brazilian team."
Zico ventured that if Brazil did meet Uruguay once again in the trophy match the pressure would be huge "because many people will be speaking about 1950," when the Uruguayans came from behind to score a shock win.
Then, as now, Zico suggested, the Brazilians would feel "an obligation to win -- and this could destabilize them."
Zico admitted he would be happy to see Uruguay not get out of the group phase. With regard to Argentina, who won their two World Cups in the last two editions of the event to be played in Latin America, at home in 1978 and in Mexico eight years later, Zico said the Messi factor was the key.
Barcelona star Lionel Messi is seen by many as needing to add a world title to his club achievements before he can be regarded as the best player ever. And Zico indicated his country's chances depended on ensuring the squad play to his strengths.
"Today, Argentina understand they have to play for Messi for the team to do well, though they have good players," he said. "It's not that the team depends on him, rather that playing more to his strengths than they played before."
He added he believed that European teams would find the going tough in Brazil but said if any European side could prosper it would be Italy.
"The Italians always are transformed when it comes to official competition," Zico said, judging Spain short on goalscoring firepower and the Netherlands's style not to his liking.