Brazil join the party but how long will they stay?


One of the few missing ingredients at this most enthralling of World Cups had been a Brazil side in full flow; on Monday, the host nation finally delivered.

But for all the mesmerising, Neymar-inspired attacking brilliance on display in beating Cameroon 4-1, question marks remain over their hopes of lifting a title they view as a birthright.

This is a tournament that Brazil have repeatedly and unashamedly stated they expect to win – from supporters to pundits and players to staff, a home triumph is the minimum expectation.

Were that not enough, they intend to do it in a style befitting their footballing ethos and tradition, succeeding where their predecessors so painfully failed on home soil in 1950.

Not even below-par performances in their opening two Group A matches – an unconvincing 3-1 victory over Croatia and 0-0 draw against Mexico – altered that demand.

Yes, there had been concern among fans, media and the squad itself following those results: the standards set in winning last year’s Confederations Cup were not being met, opponents seemed to have wised up to their tactics, the midfield looked porous and the attack was misfiring.

Allied to the injuries and dips in form which afflicted the likes of Julio Cesar, Marcelo, Paulinho, Oscar and Fred last season, fears were raised and confidence dented.

According to Bernardo Itri, football columnist for the national newspaper Folha de S.Paulo, Brazilians were suddenly “afraid” of how their team would fare against more talented and unforgiving teams, such as Germany and Argentina, in the knockout stage.

But on a balmy evening at a ground where their march to that Confederations Cup triumph began 12 months ago, Brazil arrived to a party at which they plan on being the last reveller standing.