Mon | Dec 6, 2021

Brazil ... logically

Published:Thursday | June 12, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Uruguay, Italy, England, West Germany, Argentina and France have something in common. All have won the FIFA World Cup on home soil. The next few weeks will show us all if Brazil can join them.

The 2014 hosts came close in 1950, but lost the big game to Uruguay.

Since then, Brazil has become the World Cup nation par excellence. Present at every World Cup, the Brazilians triumphed in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002. The 2014 squad has a chance to erase the 1950 blot on the Brazilian football annals.

Spain, the reigning champions, lead a stout European challenge, but history isn't encouraging. Teams from Europe always find the going tough in the Americas. In fact, no European team has ever won the Cup in the Americas.

They've come close. Czechoslovakia lost to Brazil in Chile in 1962 and Italy lost to Brazil in Mexico in 1970 and Italy lost again to Brazil in the USA on penalties in 1994. The Netherlands lost to Argentina in Argentina in 1978, and West Germany fell to the Argentines in Mexico in 1986.

Perhaps Spain, the 2010 runners-up Netherlands and the redoubtable Germans will break the spell in Rio.

While Spain is viewed by most as an ageing team whose patient passing game is no longer the gold standard, the Germans are a side that is reaching its peak.

They'll probably ban the World Cup history books from being read in camp. If the history of 1950 is repeated, then Argentina is the South America team that could win it all. Lionel Messi has returned from injury at the right time and leads a potent attack.

Logic and history

Yet, the Argentines have a knock against them. At an average age of 28 and a half, the two-time champions have the oldest squad in Rio.

Ghana reached the last eight last time and yet is the youngest squad in Rio at an average age of just under 25.

Logic and history point to Neymar and Brazil. Victors over Spain last year in the Confederations Cup final, Brazil have a solid squad that can dazzle and defend.

Coach Luiz Felipe 'Big Phil' Scolari has won it all before. With him at the controls and with history on their side, Brazil kick off as favourites.

Hubert Lawrence was an in-studio analyst in 1994 when Brazil won the World Cup.