Brazil had not fared too well in the World Cup in Germany in 2006 and worse the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. Playing at home in 2014, they are favorites to win their sixth World Cup. Brazil last beat the World in 2002 and the question is the 2014 team better than the 2002 World Cup team?
Playing against the South African national squad in the March 5, 2014 friendly, South Africa failed to test the Scolari squad. Brazil won 5-0 with Neymar scoring a hat-trick and the newly called-up Fernandinho scored from way outside the penalty box.
The 2002 squad had Dida in goal, Cafu and Roberto Carlos as wing backs, Lucio and Rogue Junior were the central defenders.
The 2014 team match up fairly well with the 2002 back four. Both Roberto Carlos and Cafu were dangerous on attack but Dani Alveres and Marcelo are in the same league. But Thiago Silva and David Luiz are superior central defenders than Lucio or Rogue Junior.
The 2002 mid-field with Kleberson and Silva were not extra-ordinary. Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho, Fernandinho or Ramires stand head and shoulder above that 2002 World Cup mid-field.
What made the 2002 Brazilian World Cup team special was the playmaking ability of Ronaldinho. He was at the top of his game in 2002 and was a destroyer of defenses. In addition, there was the incredible strike force of Ronaldo and Rivaldo. Ronaldo was unstoppable in 2002 and Rivaldo was himself quite a finisher.
The 2014 squad has a decent strike force. Hulk could peak as a player during the World Cup and Oscar is young and capable but he is no Ronaldinho. As in the Confederation Cup of 2014, Neymar is Brazil’s trump card and he functions both as a playmaker and a scorer.
Ronaldinho went back to Brazil with the hope of making the squad but Ronaldino at 33 is not the same player he was at 22.
Brazil will meet stiff competition from Argentina, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. Scolari’s squad is almost set. Fernandinho will make the team but Brazil will open the World Cup in June 2014 in Sao Paulo without the young and without the old Ronaldinho, one of the great playmakers in the annals of the World Cup.
Ball Harambee by Bagga Wilks