By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Seleção 3-0 win over Japan in the Confederations Cup opener has given Brazil’s national team an excellent boost as the side seek to lift their third successive Confederations Cup title. Already the only nation in the world to lift the trophy on three occasions, Scolari believes success in this prelude will be the perfect preparation for his young squad ahead of the 2014 World Cup.
“Losing your first game, especially as hosts, it can be very difficult to come back from that. I’m very glad we are off on the right foot,” Scolari said.
The 2002 World Cup winner knows of what he speaks. After leading the likes of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo to glory in South Korea and Japan, Scolari took over as head coach of the Portuguese national side.
Hosts of the 2004 European Championships, the team lost their opening fixture 2-1 to Greece. The shock was to repeat itself in the final, when a 1-0 win over the Portuguese was enough to give the Greeks the unlikeliest of European crowns.
There was relief in the team’s camp that no such obstacle had put itself in the way of Brazil’s trajectory in 2013. There have been few complaints about Brazil’s display against Japan but there are some sections of fans who believe Scolari needs to make one adjustment to his team before the next game.
Paris Saint-Germain playmaker Lucas Moura has so far been a substitute, Scolari preferring the bulkier and aptly named Hulk, of Russian outfit Zenit St. Petersburg. Fans gathered last week at the squad’s training base in Goîânia to show clearly who they thought should be in the starting line-up. Yet after such a dominant performance on Saturday those fans now may be inclined to change their minds.
Indeed, this is nothing new in Brazilian football, and nothing Scolari hasn’t faced before. He was forced to confront a huge backlash prior to the 2002 World Cup when he left fan favorite Romário at home.
Scolari is famed for treating his squad like a family, though was quick to distance himself from a new “Scolari family” when asked about his paternal relationship with his players on Saturday.
Still, Atlético-MG striker Jô, who scored Brazil’s third on Saturday, was happy about the team’s outlook and described the atmosphere in the squad as positive. “I think that it [the atmosphere] is one of the best I’ve seen in my career and I’ve had the opportunity to experience several different ones. It is a happy atmosphere. The confidence amongst everyone is very big,” the 26-year-old said.
Jô was a late call-up for the injured Internacional striker Leandro Damião. He has been in excellent form for Atlético this year, currently sitting top of the Copa Libertadores scoring charts and on Saturday seized his chance in international colors.
On Sunday the Seleção left Brasília, signaling the end of the city’s participation in the Confederations Cup. They headed to Fortaleza, stage of their second group game against Mexico today (Wednesday) at the Arena Castelão.
On the 22nd, they face Italy at Salvador’s Arena Fonte Nova. After doubts and pessimism, Saturday’s result has calmed the outlook on Brazil’s Confederations Cup campaign, both inside and outside the camp.