By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The coach of the Seleção (Brazil’s national team), Luiz Felipe Scolari, has stated that they will win the 2014 FIFA World Cup on home soil. His words came as Brazil played their final two friendlies of the calendar year in mid-November, winning both to take their recent tally to an impressive twelve wins from their last thirteen.
With confidence on a high Scolari was confident about his side’s chances next year. “Brazil aren’t just one of the favorites to be champions. Brazil are going to be champions,” Scolari, who was in charge when Brazil won their last World Cup title in 2002, said after the victory over Honduras on Saturday, November 16th.
In that match they thrashed a hapless Honduras outfit 5-0 in Miami. Atlético-MG’s Victor was given a chance between the sticks but Honduras didn’t manage one shot on target throughout the ninety minutes.
Honduras – already qualified for the World Cup – offered next to no resistance as five different scorers got in on the rout. Shakhtar Donetsk playmaker scored his first goal in national colors and there was also a goal for Chelsea’s Willian, making his first international appearance for over two years.
Three days later, on November 19th, they took on fellow South Americans Chile, who had comfortably beat England 2-0 at Wembley Stadium and provided a far sterner test than the Central Americans. In difficult circumstances Brazil prevailed 2-1.
The Seleção overcame a tough test as they continued their excellent form. Oscar’s slide rule pass found Hulk who lashed home on fourteen minutes. Vargas leveled for Chile but Robinho, with his first international strike in over two years, headed the Brazilian winner.
The result gave Scolari and his troops an excellent end to a year which began with no wins from Felipão’s first three games back as coach. There is now only one FIFA date between now and the end of May, when Scolari must name his 23 man World Cup squad.
These friendlies represented one of his final chances to fine tune the players to make the final cut. Brazil’s victory over Chile was a huge positive, with the returning Robinho giving his manager food for thought.
The AC Milan forward scored the 29th goal of his international career during a strong second half display. The 29-year-old was an integral part of the national side at the 2010 World Cup and is finding form at the right time domestically and his versatility across the attacking sector works strongly in his favor.
Despite not finding the back of the net Neymar was one of the best players on the pitch, growing with each performance in the yellow of Brazil. He suffered heavy treatment, particularly from the Hondurans, and later published images on Twitter of injuries he sustained during the match.
Scolari said in an interview with the Brazilian press that his squad is “lacking six or seven players” before he is sure of who he will take to the World Cup next year. While confidence is at a high with recent resounding victories, domestic performances will be vital to give Felipão an indication of who can fill the missing spaces on the jigsaw.