Team Profile: Brazil
- Coach: Carlos Dunga
- Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Inter Milan/Italy), Gomes (Tottenham/England), Doni (AS Roma/Italy)
- Defenders: Maicon (Inter Milan/Italy), Daniel Alves (Barcelona/Spain), Michel Bastos (Lyon/France), Gilberto (Cruzeiro), Lucio (Inter Milan/Italy), Juan (AS Roma/Italy), Luisao (Benfica/Portugal), Thiago Silva (AC Milan/Italy)
- Midfielders: Elano (Galatasaray/Turkey), Kaka (Real Madrid/Spain), Gilberto Silva (Panathinaikos/Greece), Josue (Wolfsburg/Germany), Ramires (Benfica/Portugal), Felipe Melo (Juventus/Italy), Kleberson (Flamengo), Julio Baptista (AS Roma/Italy)
- Forwards: Luis Fabiano (Sevilla/Spain), Nilmar (Villarreal/Spain), Robinho (Santos), Grafite (Wolfsburg/Germany)
Style of play: Coach Dunga uses a fluid 4-2-3-1 formation. The wingbacks, Michel Bastos and Maicon, often fly down the wings in attack. Brazil uses two defensive midfielders, Gilberto Silva and Felipe Melo, who act as shields in front of the defence. The trio of attacking midfielders - Kaka, Robinho and Elano - all press forward, trying to break into the box themselves, or work the ball to the feet of ultra-quick forward Luis Fabiano. Aside from using their speed and quick ball movement to score, Brazil also uses the counter-attack to perfection (they often use it to break out quickly and score when the opposing team has a corner) and set pieces.
1st round matches:
- June 15 vs. North Korea in Johannesburg
- June 20 vs. Ivory Coast in Johannesburg
- June 25 vs. Portugal in Durban
Projected starting lineup (4-2-3-1): (GK) Julio Cesar - (D) Maicon, Lucio, Juan, Michel Bastos - (M) Felipe Melo, Kaka, Robinho, Gilberto Silva, Elano - (F) Luis Fabiano
- Offence: Brazil scored an impressive 33 goals in 18 qualifying games. Led by top scorer Luis Fabiano, Brazil can hurt opposing teams so many ways: on the counter-attack, on set pieces, running right at you, or rip you apart with their speed and sparkling passing skills.
- Depth: Simply put, Brazil has it at every position. They have such a deep bench and enough world-class players that they could field two teams that could win this tournament.
- Coaching: Dunga has whipped Brazil into shape since taking over the team in the aftermath of its World Cup failure four years ago. Forget about the Samba-style soccer you usually associate with Brazil. The Selecao are far more serious under Dunga, and can grind out results with the best of them while playing tactically smart soccer.
- Tough group: In past years, Brazil has been drawn into pretty easy first-round groups. Not this time, as tricky matches against the Ivory Coast and Portugal await them.
- Over-reliance on the counter: Brazil is the master at the counter-attack, but they can be stifled against teams that are defensively well-organized. The qualifiers showed that they run out of ideas against teams who don't leave themselves vulnerable to the counter.
- Pressure: Being the No. 1 ranked team in the world isn't easy. It comes with a massive weight of expectations from their fans and the Brazilian media who second-guess the national team coach every step of the way. What's more, Brazil has to deal with the thought that anything less than a World Cup victory will be viewed as a failure back home.
Players to watch:
- Julio Cesar - The Inter Milan star doesn't get his due, but he is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Quick off his line and noted for making athletic saves, Cesar serves as the Brazil's last line of defence.
- Luis Fabiano - Fabiano is dangerous in and outside of the box because of his quick reactions: the Sevilla forward doesn't take time to size-up a situation before he strikes. Sometimes, he is overzealous and spurns better opportunities, but most of the time he scores.
- Kaka - The Real Madrid star ranks as one of the best players in the world. His driving runs, sublime ball control and perfect passes help him unlock even the tightest of defences. A driving force in midfield, he is a brilliant playmaker who has an eye for goal and can break open a game in an instant.
Key injuries/squad omissions: A handful of players, both veterans and youngsters, did not make Brazil's 23-man squad, foremost among them being Ronaldinho. While fans were shocked that the former two-time FIFA world player of the year, Brazilian coach Dunga didn't hide the fact that he had no intention of bringing Ronaldinho to South Africa. Other marquee players who missed out include Neymar, Alexandre Pato, Paulo Henrique Ganso and Adriano. Starting goalkeeper Julio Cesar has been dealing with back pains in recent training sessions.
Prognosis: Champions or finalists. The Brazilians enter the tournament as the No. 1 ranked team in the world. Fresh off their Confederations Cup victory and finishing first place in the gruelling South American qualifiers, the Selecao are in prime form and look a good bet to win a sixth World Cup. The only team that comes close to matching Brazil is Spain, so anything less than an appearance in the final for the South American powerhouse would be a major shock.
ROAD TO SOUTH AFRICA
- Current FIFA ranking: #1
- Qualification route: Brazil finished in first place (34 points) in the South American qualifers ahead of Chile (33 points) and Paraguay (33 points).
- Key to qualification: Offence. Brazil racked up 33 goals in the qualifiers, a testament to their unparalleled scoring ability. The Brazilians have a deep reservoir of attacking players and can hurt you in so many ways, their relentless offensive barrage being too much for most teams to contain.
- Crucial result: A convincing 3-1 road win over Argentina (Sept. 5, 2009 in Rosario) not only clinched a World Cup spot, but also underlined the huge difference in class between the Brazilians and Argentines, the two traditional powers of South American soccer.
- Qualifying record: 18 games played, 9 wins, 7 draws, 2 losses
- Goals for: 33
- Goals against: 11
- Top goal-scorer in qualifying: Luis Fabiano (9)
Qualifying results: (home team listed first)
- Oct. 14, 2007 - Colombia 0, Brazil 0
- Oct. 17, 2007 - Brazil 5, Ecuador 0
- Nov. 18, 2007 - Peru 1, Brazil 1
- Nov. 21, 2007 - Brazil 2, Uruguay 1
- June 15, 2008 - Paraguay 2, Brazil 0
- June 18, 2008 - Brazil 0, Argentina 0
- Sept. 7, 2008 - Chile 0, Brazil 3
- Sept. 10, 2008 - Brazil 0, Bolivia 0
- Oct. 12, 2008 - Venezuela 0, Brazil 4
- Oct. 15, 2008 - Brazil 0, Colombia 0
- March 29, 2009 - Ecuador 1, Brazil 1
- April 1, 2009 - Brazil 3, Peru 0
- June 6, 2009 - Uruguay 0, Brazil 4
- June 10, 2009 - Brazil 2, Paraguay 1
- Sept. 5, 2009 - Argentina 1, Brazil 3
- Sept. 9, 2009 - Brazil 4, Chile 2
- Oct. 11, 2009 - Bolivia 2, Brazil 1
- Oct. 14, 2009 - Brazil 0, Venezuela 0
- Number of World Cup appearances: 18
- All-time record: 92 games played, 64 wins, 14 draws, 14 losses
- Goals for: 201
- Goals against: 84
- Biggest victory: 7-1 vs. Sweden in 1950
- Biggest defeat: 3-0 vs. France in 1998
- Overall top scorer: Ronaldo (15 goals)
- Most appearances: Cafu (20 matches)
- Hosted the World Cup: 1950
World Cup track record
- 1930 - First round
- 1934 - First round
- 1938 - Semifinals (3rd place)
- 1950 - Runners-up
- 1954 - Quarter-finals
- 1958 - CHAMPIONS
- 1962 - CHAMPIONS
- 1966 - First round
- 1970 - CHAMPIONS
- 1974 - Second round (4th place)
- 1978 - Second round (3rd place)
- 1982 - Quarter-finals
- 1986 - Quarter-finals
- 1990 - Second round
- 1994 - CHAMPIONS
- 1998 - Runners-up
- 2002 - CHAMPIONS
- 2006 - Quarter-finals
- FIFA member since: 1923
- Team nickname: Selecao
- All-time caps leader: Cafu (142)
- All-time leading scorer: Pele (77 goals)
- Copa America Champions: 1919, 1922, 1949, 1989, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2007
- Confederations Cup Champions: 1997, 2005, 2009
- Under-20 World Champions: 1983, 1985, 1993, 2003
- Under-17 World Champions: 1997, 1999, 2003
- South American Youth Champions: 1974, 1983, 1985, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1995, 2001, 2007, 2009
- Olympic Silver Medal: 1984, 1988
- Olympic Bronze Medal: 1996, 2008
- Pele: The greatest player ever to play the game, Pele is one of the most recognizable and revered athletes of the 20th century. Born Edson Arantes do Nascimento, Pele led Brazil to its first World Cup in 1958 at the tender age of 17, and scored 77 goals in 92 games during his international career. He won three World Cups during his sparkling career.
- Zico: Born Artur Antunes Coimbra, Zico was voted South American Player of the Year in 1977, 1981 and 1982. He played in three World Cups (1978, 1982 and 1986) before retiring in 1990 after earning 72 caps for Brazil. He's often considered the best Brazilian player after Pele and Garrincha.