1 DIDA (GK)
6 ROBERTO CARLOS
11 ZE ROBERTO
12 ROGERIO CENI (GK)
17 GILBERTO SILVA
19 JUNINHO PERNAMBUCANO
22 JULIO CESAR (GK)
The problems experienced in qualifying for Korea/Japan 2002 soon became a distant memory for mighty Brazil as they powered to their fifth FIFA World Cup™ triumph. The Seleзгo followed that up with success in the 2004 Copa America and the following summer's FIFA Confederations Cup and also came out on top in the South American qualifying group for Germany 2006. That clean sweep sees the Brazilians in good stead as they gear up for the defence of their world crown...
Having seemingly banished the ghosts of 2001 for good, the Brazilians are rightly installed as favourites for every tournament in which they take part. The five-goal drubbing they meted out to Chile to qualify for Germany 2006 only served to heighten expectations among their adoring fans, and no wonder. Carlos Alberto Parreira's star-studded squad, an exciting blend of raw talent and valuable experience, is the envy of world football. Just to complete the picture, Brazil are the only team on planet football to have qualified for every single FIFA World Cup.
Despite having to come through qualifying to defend their crown – the first holders to enjoy this dubious distinction – Brazil amassed some very impressive statistics. In claiming top place in the group they scored more goals than any of their rivals (35), had the second meanest defence (17 goals conceded), remained unbeaten at home, and also boasted the group's top scorer (Ronaldo, with ten goals).
The biggest blemish during their campaign was a defeat against Argentina in Buenos Aires, although the four-goal hiding they subsequently gave their arch-rivals in the final of the FIFA Confederations Cup, and the fact they pinched top spot in the South America group on the final matchday, soon made up for that disappointment. Brazil finished with 34 points – four more than they picked up last time around – recording nine wins, seven draws and just two defeats.
As if the riches of the present were not enough, Brazil also have the weight of history on their side. With appearances in the last three finals and five world titles to their name, the Seleзгo are the most successful team in the competition's history. It took Brazil some time to make their mark on the tournament, however. Back in 1950, they hosted the FIFA World Cup supremely confident of celebrating the title at the awe-inspiring Maracana Stadium but failed to count on Obdulio Varela's indomitable Uruguay side snatching victory in the decisive game.
There was a happier ending in Sweden eight years later, when a 17-year-old Pele guided Brazil to their first triumph. His magical skills, along with those of Garrincha and other fabled names, ensured the country's continued domination over the next few years as further titles were added at Chile 1962 and, perhaps most spectacularly of all, at Mexico 1970.
Pele's retirement marked a downturn in Brazilian fortunes, however, and it was some 24 years and several golden generations later before the Canarinhos reached the pinnacle of world football once more. At USA 1994, Parreira was at the helm of a side famed more for its tactical nous than technical prowess. Nevertheless, with the magic of Romario and Bebeto and the leadership of Dunga inspiring his side, Parreira duly guided Brazil to victory over Italy on penalties after the first goalless final in the competition's history.
In 1998, with Ronaldo having assumed Romario's mantle, the team coached by the legendary Mario Zagallo fell to France in the final, opening a wound that would take four years to heal. Although Luiz Felipe Scolari's unheralded team arrived at Korea/Japan 2002 without the tag of favourites, they proceeded to sweep aside all-comers with some dazzling football from the three Rs – Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho – to claim a fifth FIFA World Cup.
Parreira is now back in charge of the national side and despite having never played professional football, there can be no doubting his credentials: fitness coach with the all-conquering Mexico 1970 side, he also coached Kuwait at Spain 1982 and the United Arab Emirates at Italia 1990. In this, his second spell in charge, Parreira has cast off the defensive approach he was criticised for ten years earlier and has put together a unit of fearsome attacking prowess, with the onus very much on free-flowing football and gifted ball players. At the same time, though, the experienced tactician has addressed some of the side's failings in defence, an area long considered the achilles heel of the Brazilian national side.
The sure-handed Dida provides security between the posts and Parreira can call on the likes of Cafu, Cicinho, Roque Junior, Juan, Lucio and Roberto Carlos to shape a defence that is uncompromising, rapid and resourceful. In midfield the experienced Emerson provides some valuable balance, with Alex an ever-willing assistant. Up front the side boasts an almost priceless array of thoroughbred talent in the form of Juninho Pernambucano, Julio Baptista, Robinho (the so-called new pearl of Brazilian football), Ronaldinho, Kaka, Adriano and Ronaldo, who will have his sights set on becoming the leading scorer in the history of the FIFA World Cup when he goes to Germany.
All in all then, Brazil are an explosive mix of tried-and-tested talent more than capable of securing a historic sixth triumph