While Brazil have been quite successful in this tournament in recent years (winning in 2005 and 2009), the main goal awaits 12 months from now. But after such a disappointing campaign of friendly matches, putting on a good performance in the confederations cup, beginning with a win over the very difficult Japan, is the only way to avoid mountains of pressure from the demanding fans & press.
It seems the Brazil might be finally on the right track. Things haven’t gone so well since the appointment of Felipe Scolari to the job, mostly drawing or even losing (to England) friendly matches one by one, struggling to find a defensive scheme that stops the goals from leaking in. This includes conceding twice from Chile and England in friendlies on home-soil, which led the national team and especially Neymar to leave the ground under a chorus of jeers.
But the 3-0 win over France just under a week ago has gotten the expectations and excitement levels back up. After all, with the very talented group of players – Neymar, Hulk and Oscar playing behind whatever striker Scolari chooses (Fred probably, showing just how shallow the pool of goalscorers is at the moment for the national side), it should make them favorites to win, especially at home, against virtually anyone.
But there are problems in the Brazilian lineup, especially in the back, beginning in the very undisciplined combination of full backs, Dani Alves and Marcelo, who have both had bad seasons in Spain, and without somehow controlling their tendencies to constantly attack on the wings, Brazil will find themselves exposed more than once against a Japanese side that’s excellent on counter attacks.
Another issue is the goalkeeper, with Julio Cesar not entirely supported by most to be the number one choice at goal. The inclusion of Luis Gustavo, a bench player for Bayern Munich, in the starting lineup, might be a little bit peculiar as well.
For Japan, the arrival is a bit more relaxing. They’ve already made sure they’ll be in the 2014 World Cup, but that hasn’t stopped them from showing up in their strongest lineup to the tournament opener in Brasilia, mostly relying on a slightly injured Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa, who didn’t have the best of debut seasons with Manchester United, to bring the creative power to the side, making sure Shinji Okazaki does better than he did for Stuttgart in club action.
Prediction – Brazil are finally feeling good about themselves, walking in with a bit more confidence than before to their first serious test since the Olympic games. Japan are a side that might give them trouble, but their defensive midfield and centre backs are the weak spot for the Blue Samurai, which should give Brazil the edge very early on, en route to a tournament win.