Let the World Cup games begin

2014-06-08 15:01

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

This is the moment the world has been waiting for!

After months of protests and pessimism, Brazilians have finally started to enjoy what promises to be a memorable World Cup. The kick-off on Thursday against Croatia in São Paulo will be watched by virtually the whole country (and billions across the world).

But with only a few days to go, Brazilian authorities are bracing themselves for renewed waves of protests. On Thursday, thousands of homeless Brazilians marched on the Arena Corinthians stadium in São Paulo, where the opening game will be played. They were protesting the cost of staging the event.

But despite these protests, organisers said it was all systems go as participating teams started arriving in the land of samba.

First to touch down was Australia, followed by Croatia, Italy and Netherlands. Ivory Coast were the first African nation to get to Brazil.

After thumping Panama 4-0 and narrowly beating Serbia 1-0 on Friday, commentators think Brazil have a good chance of winning the tournament for the sixth time.

But they are also worried about a syndrome rarely seen in past versions of the Seleção: it all depends on one player.

That player is Neymar.

Not only does he score often, but he is the creative hub of the team. Seldom is there is a goal that does not involve him, at least in some part, be it by scoring, assisting a team-mate or winning a penalty.

He is also the natural choice for free kicks near the box and has increasingly become one of the leaders of the team, even though he is just 22. Boasting such a great asset is a big advantage for the team and the source of much optimism. But it has a downside: should he suffer an injury or a slump in form (as happened at Barcelona), Brazil will have to quickly reinvent itself. And it will not be easy.

It is a new phenomenon. Not even Pelé was a lone star: in 1958, he had Garrincha, Didi, Zagallo and Nílton Santos at his side. Four years later, he was injured in the early stages of the Chile World Cup, but the team recovered and went on to win it anyway.

In 1970, Pelé was supported by Rivelino, Gerson, Tostão and Jairzinho, in what is considered to be the greatest squad in history.

In 1982, the wonderful Seleção team that amazed the world was a constellation: it had Zico, Falcão, Sócrates and Cerezo. When Brazil won its fourth trophy in 1994, Romário and Bebeto were equals. And in 2002, Ronaldo had Rivaldo as his partner. And let’s not forget Ronaldinho.

Now, even though Brazil has excellent players like Fred, Dani Alves and David Luiz, no one comes close to dominating the team as Neymar has done. It is a sign of the times that the current crop of Brazilian footballers is considered average by historical standards.

Neymar’s emotional state will also be a factor. His transfer to Barcelona is being investigated by Spanish authorities under suspicion of tax fraud. He has also been criticised for spending too much time doing TV adverts and has had a turbulent romance with a famous soapie actress.

Some fear he lacks the maturity to carry Brazil to a sixth trophy. But then again, he might once more prove his genius.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.