The most successful national team in history need no introduction. Nor in fact did they need to qualify for this year’s World Cup – the hosts qualify automatically.
So rather than simply abandon Brazil’s road to… er, Brazil, let’s have a look at their recent performances.
Their biggest warm-up for the tournament was undoubtedly the Confederations Cup in June of 2013, where again they were the host nation. They were joined in Group A by Euro 2012 Runners-up Italy, CONCACAF Gold Cup holders Mexico and 2011 Asian Cup winners Japan.
World and European Champions Spain, Copa America winners Uruguay, Nigeria; the 2013 African Cup of Nations victors and Oceania Football Confederation champions Tahiti made up Group B.
They eased through the group, winning all three games and conceding just two goals to Italy in a 4-2 win, where goals from Dante, Neymar and a brace from Fred made the difference. Japan were cast aside in a 3-0 result, punished by Neymar, Paulinho and Jo. Mexico endured a slightly softer defeat at 2-0. The Brazilian goals there were courtesy of Jo and Neymar once again.
Brazil then went on to beat Continental companions Uruguay, before making Spain look absolutely ordinary in a superb 3-0 victory in the final.
In the Uruguayan fixture, Fred propelled the Verde-Amarela into a slender 1-0 lead before the break, only to have it levelled by Ederson Cavani minutes after half-time oranges. Paulinho made sure that the hosts were the South American candidates for the final, and there took on Spain.
Fred scored just three minutes after kick-off, after which Spain were bullied by a Neymar brace, the goals falling either side of half-time.
The final is also notable for arguably one of the best ‘saves’ by an outfield player of all time:
Since the successful summer of 2013, Brazil have played a total of eight friendly matches, beginning with a loss to Switzerland, when they took a trip to Basel. Following that, Brazil have put together an impressive string of seven straight victories. The first of these was a 6-0 thumping of fellow boys-in-gold Australia. Fred, Gustavo, Ramires, Neymar and Fred (x2) were the scorers.
They share a common tongue, but in the next match against Portugal, Brazil made sure they did all the talking, winning 3-1 with goals from Thiago Silva, Neymar and Jo.
Next up, the squad traveled to the site of their last World Cup win – Seoul in South Korea. Here they grabbed a 2-0 victory, Neymar and Oscar sharing the goals.
Zambia were the next challenge, fended off by Dede and Oscar to culminate in a 2-0 win.
Fellow South Americans Honduras joined the squad in a trip North of the border, playing out a friendly in the United States. The trip proved to be much more fruitful for the Pentacampeões (5-time champions) as they netted a rather fitting 5 goals, thanks to Bernard, Willian, Dante, Maicon and Huk.
Brazil then ventured even further north into Canada, where Chile awaited them. It was a close 2-1 affair, with Hulk and Robinho providing the firepower.
Brazil’s most recent friendly took place in the country where the last World Cup was held – South Africa. There they played the home side in a thrilling 5-0 victory, the centerpiece of which was a hat-trick for Neymar; goals also came from Fernandinho and Oscar.
Brazil are due to face Panama and Serbia as their warm up games in Early June, before they kick off their tournament against Croatia on June 12.