KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Brazil’s national team need to throw their own weight into the World Cup in the decisive last matchday in Group A.
Visitors to the country for the finals have been bemused at the lack of atmosphere away from the stadia on matchdays. Almost as if Brazil has been selling the world a long-running promotional trick.
Certainly last year’s street fury, blaming the World Cup for everything from bus fares to hospital waiting lists, reduced anticipation levels. But it was Brazil’s politicians who decided to chase the World Cup, not FIFA’s insistence on a Brazilian staging.
Similarly it was Brazil’s politicians and sports leaders who insisted on 12 venues (eight is the minimum for a World Cup) and refused FIFA’s wish for ‘clusters’ to ease costs and stress.
GROUP A OUTCOME: Brazil will top Group A by beating Cameroon. If they only draw they risk finishing second. Mexico will qualify with a win or a draw against Croatia. The Croats must beat Mexico to qualify.
One reason why a thrilling World Cup has failed to fire the public mood is connected to the hosts’ own team. A fortunate opening 3-1 win over Croatia was followed by a goalless draw against Mexico. Thus far the players selected and sent out by coach Luiz Felipe Scolari have failed to create any momentum and failed to light the spark of the nation.
Today, against the homeward-bound civil war squad of Cameroon, Brazil have a perfect opportunity to make up for lost time. Victory, by any margin, will lift Brazil to the top of Group A and into the second round (where they will meet Holland or Chile in Belo Horizonte on Saturday.
GROUP B OUTCOME: Holland will maintain top spot with a draw or win over Chile. The Chileans must win to finish top and thus (almost certainly) avoid Brazil in the second round.
This is not a problem for Oscar or for the magnificent Neymar who struck a fine goal from 25m against Croatia. But this is not the style for the out-of-shape and out-of-form Fred or for the deep-lying and equally deeply unimpressive Luiz Gustavo.
Scolari on Friday afternoon at Teresopolis, worked his players on triangles ending in a shot at goal from both close and long range.
The manner in which they convert training exercises into reality is crucial for Brazil the team . . . and for the World Cup in general.
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