Population: 186,100,000
Area: 8,511,965 km²
Capital: Brasilia
Language: Portuguese

Brazil won the long CONMEBOL league and qualified with ease this time.
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Mar 01 Russia v Brazil 0-1
Jun 04 Brazil v New Zealand 4-0

Participations: (17) 1930, 1934, 1938, 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, 1966, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998 and 2002
Best placing: Winners 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002
Topscorers: Pelé and Ronaldo, 12 goals
More detailed history information

Jun 13 - BRA v CRO  in Berlin
Jun 18 - BRA v AUS  in Munich
Jun 22 - BRA v JPN  in Dortmund

- Brazil in Group F -
Jan Alsos: 1st place *
Pierre Boisrond: 1st place
Ruud Doevendans: 1st place
Mike Gibbons: 1st place
Peter Goldstein: 1st place
Paul Marcuccitti: 1st place
Felipe Santos: 1st place *
* World Cup winners


by Jan Alsos

    All fans of the game expect something special from Brazil every time they show up at the World Cup finals. May be even more so this year than ever before. Brazil are the travelling circus of world football after all - both on and off the field. Stadiums will be covered in green and yellow, Brazil will get more support than any other team by neutral fans and their squad of players is second to nobody's.

    Brazil won all seven games they played in the last World Cup - which had never been accomplished before - and the backbone of that team is still present and going strong. Everything indicates Brazil will be even stronger in 2006 with the emergence of several new stars. Under FIFA's new rules, the defending champions had to qualify this time and Brazil got the results they needed to extend their record as the only ever-present country in World Cup history.

    Carlos Alberto Parreira, who took Brazil to the title in 1994, is back as coach now. Few people have more World Cup experience than Parreira. 2006 will be his fifth finals as manager for a team (Kuwait '82, UA Emirates '90, Brazil '94, Saudi Arabia '98). Parreira was criticized in 1994 for his cautious and defensive style, but nothing of that seems to characterize his current team which is filled with a handful of European-based attacking superstars of the highest quality.

    What line-up can we expect Parreira to use this summer? It should be Dida (AC Milan) in goal even if he has had some dodgy appearances lately. Marcos (Palmeiras), who played when Brazil won in Korea/Japan, is likely to be one of the back-up goalkeepers along with Gomes (PSV Eindhoven) or Rogerio Ceni (Sao Paulo).

    In defence, Brazil have arguably the most successful international full-back partnership in history with Cafu (AC Milan) and Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid). They boast more than 250 caps between them and will be looking for more glory this summer. Cafu has suffered from a knee-injury lately, but will recover in time for the World Cup. To underline Brazil's luxury problems, Parreira can call on Cicinho (Real Madrid) if needed.

    The undoubted leader in center of defence is Lucio (Bayern Munich), one of the most complete defenders in the world with pace to rival even the fastest forwards. His partner central has been tough to find and is probably the most uncertain position in the whole team. Parreira has shifted between a number of players. Roque Junior and Juan (both Bayer Leverkusen) and Luisao (Benfica) have all played alongside Lucio recently.

    Emerson (Juventus) will be the anchor in midfield. That looks certain. He missed the last World Cup on the eve of the finals when he dislocated his shoulder playing goalkeeper in training and is desperate to take part this time. Edmilson (Barcelona) and Gilberto Silva (Arsenal) could also fill a similar role if required - the former also as central defender.

    In an attacking midfield role is of course the FIFA World Player of the Year 2005, Ronaldinho (Barcelona), who might very well be the one who steals all the headlines in the World Cup. At the prime age of 26, he has the world at his feet and will be the main man to close down for opponents. Another rising star, who just briefly presented himself in Korea/Japan four years ago, is Kaka (AC Milan). He looks certain to start in an attacking midfield role alongside Ronaldinho.

    That will probably leave Juninho Pernambucano (Lyon) off the team. A player of immense quality who most likely would have started for just about any other team in the World Cup. His free-kick expertise is a valuable asset to the squad though, giving Parreira an extra option if needed. Not that there is shortage of set-piece experts in the starting line-up to begin with. Players like Robinho (Real Madrid) and Ze Roberto (Bayern Munich) are also contenders for positions wide in the team - midfield or attack.

    Up front, Ronaldo (Real Madrid) will be hunting for at least two more goals which will make him joint all-time topscorer in the World Cup finals. Gerd Müller's record of 14 goals has stood since 1974 when West Germany hosted. Ronaldo has had his fair share of fitness problems, but still managed to keep up his frequent goalscoring rate at club-level which is a good sign for Brazil. Adriano (Internazionale) looks certain to partner Ronaldo. He impressed a great deal in the Confederations Cup last summer with some fantastic goals. Fred (Lyon) is a nice supplement for any of the forward positions.

    Parreira might go for a 4-2-2-2 formation. A flat back four with two holding midfielders and an attacking quartet in front of them. It will be 4-2-4 if we count Kaka and Ronaldinho as forwards. Regardless of formation and its numbers the team simply looks frightening. One might wonder if this seleção is the most impressive on paper that Brazil has ever produced - certainly one of them. Even the substitute bench will be filled with formidable names.

    Brazil won the Confederations Cup last summer in Germany after playing some splendid attacking football particularly against Greece, Germany and Argentina in the final. In the groupstage they lost to Mexico and drew against Japan, but those results could Brazil afford at the time. Parreira rested Ronaldo, Cafu and Roberto Carlos in that tournament, but otherwise fielded a full strength squad to get maximum out of what Parreira described as a "very important test". We saw the best of Brazil, but also humanity. Like everybody else, Brazil can't afford hiccups this summer.

    They are grouped with Croatia, Japan and Australia in the first round. A tricky trio. Parreira's men won't be allowed to rest on their laurels in this group. Last year Brazil drew against both Japan (Confed Cup) and Croatia (friendly) and Australia is an underdog with everything to win.

    Anyway, Brazil must be the hottest favourites of all to win the World Cup based on their pool of talent and recent World Cup history. Traditionally, the biggest pre-tournament favourites rarely win the World Cup so Parreira's men must break that spell to take home their sixth title in July. That favourite's burden is basically the only thing counting against the Brazilians.




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