Brazil have emerged as clear favourites to win the 2014 World Cup on home soil after Luis Felipe Scolari’s side beat world champions Spain 3-0 in the Confederations Cup final last Sunday.
The hosts, who now have a year to prepare for the World Cup, had the expectations of home supporters and football betting fans alike on their shoulders but dealt with the pressure superbly, beating Spain at their own game with some magnificent attacking football.
Neymar, Barcelona’s new £50m signing, netted the goal of the game while Fred bagged a brace and confirmed his place at Brazil’s central striker heading into next summer’s tournament. It really was a display of champions as the defence pressed hard when out of possession and the midfield sprung like a crouching predator as the ball bounced loose in the centre of the park. Neymar, alongside strike partner Hulk, terrorised Spain’s defence all game and used the intricate vision of Oscar to their advantage when receiving through balls.
Yet what was most impressive about Brazil’s performance – and indeed why they are now 4.33 favourites with football betting punters on bet365 to win the World Cup – was their midfield cover, commanded determinedly by Paulinho and Luiz Gustavo.
The pair marshalled the midfield so well neither Andres Iniesta nor Xavi managed to eke out the service to Fernando Torres that the lone front-man is usually afforded. Instead, the Barcelona pair were forced sideways and rarely got the ball past Gustavo, who is set to dominate the World Cup headlines next year.
The five-time world champions are rightly favourites, not only because they’re on home soil and haven’t lost a competitive fixture in Brazil since 1975, but because this team is now finally a team and regimented to win football matches with flair, confidence and aggression.