Having turned on the style in the second half of their South Africa 2010 qualifying campaign, Brazil went into the showpiece event on African soil among the favourites for the title. After an inconsistent start to the preliminary phase, A Seleção grew in confidence as the qualifiers progressed and picked up a series of notable victories – particularly away from home against arch-rivals Argentina and Uruguay. Just as on the road to Germany 2006, the Brazilians ended up topping the South American Zone standings, in stark contrast to their travails when reaching both USA 1994 and Korea/Japan 2002. But despite these occasional scares, Brazil have never failed to successfully negotiate a FIFA World Cup™ qualifying phase.
FIFA World Cup finals history
So demanding are the Brazilian faithful, even a Seleção squad that finishes runners-up at a FIFA World Cup finals cannot be sure what kind of reception they will get on their return home. The only nation to have taken part in every edition of the elite competition, Brazil have lifted the coveted Trophy on a record five occasions (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002), finished in second place twice (1950 and 1998) and taken the last spot on the podium at another two editions (1938 and 1978).
The current crop
Given they are set to host the next FIFA World Cup, Brazil have been spared the rigours of South American Zone qualifying. With that in mind, and fully aware of the enormous burden of expectation sure to surround A Verde e Amarelo in 2014, the national set-up have put in place an intense preparatory process featuring friendly clashes against fellow members of the global elite. This approach has been underlined by meetings with opponents of the calibre of Argentina, France, USA and the Netherlands since South Africa 2010. However, in their first major test on the road to 2014, the Brazil crashed out of the 2011 Copa America at the quarter-final stage, eliminated by Paraguay.
The key players
After rising rapidly to superstar status at club side Santos, striker Neymar is already being hailed as a man capable of playing a key role for the five-time world champions come Brazil 2014. Currently among the supporting cast in attack is the youngster’s former Santos team-mate Robinho, while Barcelona’s Dani Alves is a lung-bursting presence on the flank. Between the sticks, veteran goalkeeper Julio Cesar exudes confidence and security to the rest of the backline.
Coach: Luiz Felipe Scolari
Best performances in a FIFA competition: FIFA World Cup Sweden 1958, Chile 1962, Mexico 1970, USA 1994, Korea/Japan 2002 (Winners), FIFA U-20 World Cup Mexico 1983, USSR 1985, Australia 1993, UAE 2003 (Winners), FIFA U-17 World Cup Egypt 1997, New Zealand 1999, Finland 2003 (Winners), FIFA Confederations Cup Saudi Arabia 1997, Germany 2005, South Africa 2009 (Winners)
Former stars: Garrincha, Pele, Ronaldo