Wednesday 11 June 2014

Great expectations: Can Brazil avoid a second Maracanazo?

Not since Italy in Italia 90 has a home country faced so much pressure to win the World Cup as Brazil.

I expect Brazil to get to the final and it won't be a surprise if they emerge as winners. But can they handle the pressure and expectation from the Brazilian public.

Brazil is an emerging country. When I was there last year I felt that feeling of being in a country that's on the way up.

There are still huge problems to overcome. Poverty, inequality, corruption, lack of public services and government provisions but there's so much potential for Brazil to be a major world power.

If there's one area where Brazil has never been up and coming it's football. They're world leaders - no country has won the World Cup more times than Brazil. If they win in their own country it will make it 6 world titles.

What's amazing is that for all their success, nothing (except perhaps a victory next month) can make up for the national disaster that was the 1950 World Cup Final.

That was the last time Brazil held the World Cup and just like this year's tournament, the competition was about Brazil announcing itself to the world as a modern, progressive country.

Winning the World Cup was meant to be a statement to the world to show that Brazil had arrived.

But it all went wrong!

World Cup 1950 final the MARACANAZO

I'm reading a great book at the moment by Brazilian football correspondent Fernando Duarte. It's called: Shocking Brazil - Six Games that shook the World Cup.

The book looks at 6 crucial World Cup campaigns that altered the face of Brazilian football. The book begins with arguably the biggest failure which was the 1950 World Cup. The parallels with today are striking.

The defeat by Uruguay when Brazil only needed a draw seemed to leave the country in an psychological crisis. They hadn't arrived, they failed and the pain of that defeat still lingers on.

Can this World Cup make up for 1950?

I hope and want Brazil to do well. I'm one of those people who always like to see Brazil do well. But I don't think there's ever been a World Cup where failure by the host nation could have such repercussions, both culturally, politically and from a sporting perspective.

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