TOURNAMENT hosts Brazil are always an exciting team to watch but can the likes of Neymar, Hulk and David Luiz taste World Cup glory this year?


Outright odds: 11/4

To win group: 1/6

To qualify: 1/80


Full squad: Julio Cesar (Toronto FC), Jefferson (Botafogo), Victor (Gremio); Dani Alves (Barcelona), Maicon (Inter Milan), Marcelo (Real Madrid), Maxwell (Paris St Germain), David Luiz (Chelsea), Thiago Silva (Paris St Germain), Dante (Bayern Munich), Henrique (Napoli); Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg), Paulinho (Tottenham), Ramires (Chelsea), Fernandinho (Manchester City), Oscar (Chelsea), Willian (Chelsea), Hernanes (Inter Milan), Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk); Fred (Fluminense), Neymar (Barcelona), Hulk (Zenit St Petersburg), Jo (Atletico Mineiro).

Manager: Luiz Felipe Scolari

World Cup record: Five-time winners (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002), twice runners-up (1950, 1998), twice third (1938, 1978), fourth (1974)

How they qualified: Automatically as hosts

Other competitive internationals (most recent 1st): Brazil's only recent competitive action saw them run out impressive winners of the 2013 Confederations Cup on home soil, winning all five games. Fred scored five goals - losing out on the Golden Boot to Fernando Torres on tie-breakers - while Neymar scored four, with Jo and Paulinho netting two apiece. Seven Brazilians were named in the team of the tournament.

v Spain (home) 3-0 (HT 2-0) Fred 2, 47, Neymar 44

v Uruguay (home) 2-1 (HT 1-0) Fred 41, Paulinho 86

v Italy (home) 4-2 (HT 1-0) Dante 45, Neymar 55, Fred 66, 89

v Mexico (home) 2-0 (HT 1-0) Neymar 9, Jo 90

v Japan 3-0 (HT 1-0) Neymar 3, Paulinho 48, Jo 90

Goalscorers: With no qualifying to go on, we'll consider the Confederations Cup with these stats. Here it is worth noting that Neymar - among the favourites for the Golden Boot for the World Cup - was outscored by Fred by five goals to four (Fred lost out on the Golden Boot to Fernando Torres on tie-breakers). Jo and Paulinho netted two apiece.

Half-time/full-time: In their five games at last year's tournament, Brazil led in each of them at the break.

Clean sheets: Three of Brazil's five wins were 'to nil' and they did not concede a single goal in the first half.

Win to nil: See above.

Cards: Brazil picked up eight yellow cards in their five Confederations Cup matches, no more than three coming in a single game.

Build-up (most recent 1st): Brazil have played only friendlies for the last year, with matches spread around the globe from Florida to Beijing. Brazil have won their last seven of these games - against mixed opposition it must be said - but did go down 1-0 to Switzerland in Basel last August. In six of their seven wins they led at half-time.

v South Africa (away) 5-0 (HT 2-0) Oscar 10, Neymar 41, 46, 90, Fernandinho 79

v Chile (neutral) 2-1 (HT 1-0) Hulk 14, Robinho 79

v Honduras (neutral) 5-0 (HT 1-0) Bernard 22, Dante 55, Maicon 66, Willian 70, Hulk 74

v Zambia (neutral) 2-0 (HT 0-0) Oscar 59, Dede 66

v South Korea (away) 2-0 (HT 1-0) Neymar 44, Oscar 49

v Portugal (neutral) 3-1 (HT 2-1) Thiago Silva 24, Neymar 34, Jo 49

v Australia (home) 6-0 (HT 3-0) Jo 8, 34, Neymar 36, Ramires 58, Alexandre Pato 73, Luiz Gustavo 84

v Switzerland (away) 0-1 (HT 0-0)


Team verdict: Luiz Felipe Scolari's team are under huge pressure: only a sixth world title and first on home soil will be acceptable. The signs at the Confederations Cup were hugely encouraging, with Brazil looking like a team aware of the lofty expectations but ready and willing to match them.

They swept past Italy, Uruguay and Spain to take the title and there is real belief that the hosts will be the team to beat.

Scolari has set the team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Luiz Gustavo and Paulinho's work in linking defence and attack key to both their defensive solidity and attacking prowess.

Hulk, Oscar and Neymar operate behind target man Fred. It's a first XI full of quality, with the likes of Robinho, Willian, Fernandinho and Ramires providing high-quality depth off the bench.

Only the form of long-term first-choice keeper Julio Cesar is of real concern following his recent inactivity.

The group draw has been kind too. Cameroon are weaker than at any time in the last 20 years, Mexico only just scraped through qualifying and Croatia are a good, industrious side but hardly among the elite.

Winning the group should be a formality, with the only slight concern a fixture list that pits them against the next best team in the group, Croatia, first up. But in truth, after Brazil's performances at the Confederations Cup last time out, anything less than three victories would be a surprise.

Things quickly get tougher from there, though, with Spain or Holland likely to be the last-16 opponents.

The hosts are short prices in all the obvious markets, with even a Brazil/Neymar winner/top goalscorer double paying no more than 20/1.

A seemingly straightforward group-stage draw and the likelihood of Spain or Holland lying in wait makes a last-16 exit worth considering at 3/1, while a glance beyond Neymar in the top goalscorer markets may pay dividends.

Fred outscored him at the Confederations Cup, while Jo has been among the goals in recent friendlies. It may be prudent to see which of those two is handed a starting berth before handing over any cash even if it means taking a slightly shorter price.