FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: A sixth victory pending for Brazil?

By Ben Kelly
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: A sixth victory pending for Brazil?
Copyright  Eugene Hoshiko/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved

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20 years since they held the trophy for the last time, the most successful nation in World Cup history are ready to once again go on the hunt for a sixth trophy.

Everyone loves watching Brazil play at the World Cup. They are also the only nation to qualify for every edition of the tournament, so it’s safe to say they are pretty good value for holding the record number of wins.

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Brazil lift the 2002 World Cup in JapanTHOMAS KIENZLE/AP

However, in more recent history, they haven’t hit the high expectations that they set for themselves. In Russia 2018 they were tournament favourites, but were beaten in the quarter-finals by a strong Belgium side who had their own aspirations of winning the tournament. In 2014, hosting the tournament in their own country, they were embarrassed by Germany in the semi-final, losing 7-1 to the eventual champions that year.

So, can they improve upon that form this time around? Can they go all the way in Qatar and land their record sixth title?

Brazil’s group/route to Lusail

Brazil have been drawn in Group G alongside competition that they will see as quite favourable in terms of their chances of progressing to the knockout rounds. They will come up against Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon for the chance to make it to the round of 16. They will begin their campaign vs Serbia at Lusail, where they will come up against the likes of Fulham’s Aleksander Mitrović and Ajax’s Dušan Tadić, both of which have been shining for their respective clubs recently.

Switzerland will be next for the Brazilians, just as in 2018 when they raced each other in the group stage in Russia, too. Captain Granit Xhaka has been having a brilliant season so far for his club, Arsenal. There is also Xherdan Shaqiri, who is now playing his club football in the United States. He has produced countless important moments for his country over the years and this is likely to be his last tournament for the Swiss. They are a team not to be underestimated, as they knocked out world champions France on penalties at the European Championships last year.

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Yann Sommer saves crucial penalty for Switzerland at Euro 2020Daniel Mihailescu/Copyright 2021 The AP. All rights reserved

Inter Milan’s Andre Onana will be the goalkeeper for Cameroon when they face Brazil in the final round of group games, once again at Lusail. Brazil will be hoping they’ve accumulated enough points before that final game to have already progressed from the group. They will want to avoid the pressure of needing to get any points out of that game if they can.

Brazil are the favourites for this tournament in the eyes of many. Winning their group will help them, but they are heavily fancied to be one of the two teams playing in the final at Lusail at the end of December. If Brazil progress from Group G, they will face one of Portugal, Ghana, Uruguay and Korea Republic in the round of 16. They will be hoping that Portugal don’t slip up and finish runners-up in the group, as that will mean they could face each other and the task of progressing to the quarter-finals will become more difficult.

If they do make the quarters, they are going to play a team from Groups E and F, which include Spain, Germany, Belgium and the runners-up in 2018, Croatia. They could then move onto a semi-final and final at Lusail, where they will be eyeing up the chance to lift their 6th title.

Key players

Brazil’s pool of players for this tournament looks really daunting for everyone else, particularly in forward positions. Alongside their star man, Neymar, they have players such as Vinicius Junior, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli, Richarlison, Raphina and Roberto Firmino; all of which are household names in world football. With this kind of depth at the manager’s disposal, Brazil will have a lot of options available to them if some games aren’t going to plan, which could give them the edge in tight matches.

Neymar has been the poster boy for Brazil for over a decade now. Having enjoyed a startling club career, winning the European cup for Barcelona and several league titles for Paris Saint-Germain, he would love to add more international medals to his collection before he steps away from the national team. He already has a Copa America to his name, won in 2019 after defeating Peru in the final. A World Cup would crown a gloriously successful career with a fantastic exclamation point, as many people are expecting this to be his last appearance at the world’s biggest tournament.

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Neymar represents Brazil in a recent friendlyLee Jin-man/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved

“The tournament will be crucial to him. I mean, 2014, he suffered that bad injury during the course of the tournament, 2018 he was coming back after a lengthy injury lay off,” explained Tim Vickery, South American football correspondent for BBC Sport.

“Neymar, at the time at this World Cup, he will be almost to the day the same age as Pelé when Pelé retired from international football. The difference is that Pelé retired having done it all. Neymar goes into this World Cup with it all to do. He will be desperate to pick up that medal.”

20 years on since Brazil won the tournament for the last time in Japan, they are hungry to add a record sixth title. Can they do it again for the people of their country? Can they do it for Neymar, who will want to go out on a high? There isn’t long to wait now until the tournament in Qatar provides all of the answers.

Journalist • Ben Kelly