Outright Odds: 3/1
Group F Winners: 1/4
What else is there to be said about Brazil? They are the only team to have participated in every World Cup finals and are five times winners in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002. They have also finished as runners up twice in 1950 and 1998.
Manager Carlos Alberto Parreira, who won it in 1994 has possibly a better squad of players at his disposal than he did 12 years ago and instead of Bebeto, Romario and Rai he now has Adriano, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. It is unlikely the man who has lead four different nations to the finals (Kuwait 1982, UAE 1990, Brazil 1994 and Saudi Arabia 1998) will be complaining.
Brazil start as clear favourites for the tournament and have attacking resources to frighten any opposing managers. As well as the trio already described, throw Kaka, Robinho, Roberto Carlos and Juninho into the mix and goals can come from literally anywhere on the pitch.
Qualification wasn’t the breeze it should have been, with two defeats and seven draws in 18 matches. It is important to consider though Parreira was forced to shuffle the pack as injuries and European teams demanding their players were kept fit.
In terms of individual talent, Brazil are streets ahead of anyone else participating in the finals, but that is not how a football team should be judged. What we do know, however, is that a fully-fit first-choice team will turn it on when it matters most of all. Brazil, even without Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos and Cafu, hammered Argentina 4-1 in the final of last year’s Confederations Cup held in Germany in what could be seen as the “warm up” to this year’s finals.
The other 31 countries participating in the tournament need some hope that Brazil can be beaten and they do have some weaknesses. Goalkeeper Dida is prone to some dodgy moments, although he is nowhere the liability he was regarded as four years during his calamitous appearances in AC Milan’s Champions League campaign. Roque Junior, who had a forgettable loan spell at Leeds United, could also be seen as a weak link at the back.
These minor imperfections could be seen as clutching at straws as overall, as a team and even as a squad, Brazil ooze world class quality with the important players vastly experienced in terms of World Cup finals appearances and success.
While Brazil are the firm bookmaker’s favourites, top goal scorer punters may like to try Adriano to win the Golden Boot. Strike partner Ronaldo, who won the coveted title four years ago is only offered at single figures.
The 3/1 on offer of a Brazil victory looks decidedly good value before kick-off while Adriano could shine in his first major finals appearance.
Brazil to win the World Cup @ 3/1
E/W Adriano as top goalscorer @ 12/1
Word count: 459
Outright Odds: 3/1