News / Americas

    Brazil Eyes 6th World Cup Title

    A street vendor sells representations of Brazil's national flags near the Arena Castelao in Fortaleza, Brazil, June 11, 2014.
    A street vendor sells representations of Brazil's national flags near the Arena Castelao in Fortaleza, Brazil, June 11, 2014.
    Mike Richman
    With the opening of the 2014 World Cup just hours away, many eyes are on consensus-favorite Brazil as it seeks to capture the world's marquee sporting event for a record sixth time.

    The Brazilians appear primed to win it.  As the hosts of the 32-team tournament, they will be competing before thousands of their rabid fans.  Plus, they sport a young, talented roster that is led by one of the most dangerous strikers in the game, Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, commonly known as Neymar, and one of the top defenders in the world, Thiago Silva.
     
    Brazil's Neymar eyes the ball during his team's final practice in Sao Paulo one day before the opening match of the soccer World Cup between Brazil and Croatia, June 11, 2014.Brazil's Neymar eyes the ball during his team's final practice in Sao Paulo one day before the opening match of the soccer World Cup between Brazil and Croatia, June 11, 2014.
    x
    Brazil's Neymar eyes the ball during his team's final practice in Sao Paulo one day before the opening match of the soccer World Cup between Brazil and Croatia, June 11, 2014.
    Brazil's Neymar eyes the ball during his team's final practice in Sao Paulo one day before the opening match of the soccer World Cup between Brazil and Croatia, June 11, 2014.
    Toss in Brazil's 3-0 home turf rout of reigning world champion Spain in the title match of the Confederations Cup, a warm-up for the World Cup, as well as the Brazilians' incentive of erasing the memory from their heartbreaking loss to Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup finals, the only other time Brazil has hosted the event.

    The 20th World Cup kicks off on Thursday, when Brazil begins its quest to become the first host country to win the title since France in 1998, with a Group A clash against Croatia in Sao Paulo.

     Facing Pressure

    But could being the host country backfire on Brazil?  At the same time that the Brazilians are heavy favorites, they are under pressure to meet the weighty expectations of their home fans, according to Stefano Bernabino, chief editor of the television network Eurosport International.

    “Visiting Brazil several times and working for a few years on this major event, you really feel when you’re in Brazil that that’s the homeland of football," Bernabino said on the VOA podcast Sports Buzz.  "Football is more than a religion. Football is more than life for all the Brazilians, so playing on their own soil on one side is a great advantage, on the other side a great pressure.  The whole country is expecting Brazil to win the World Cup.  So it’s going to be quite tricky.  On one side, an advantage, on the other side, a big weight on the shoulders of Brazil.”

    Brazil's top challengers range from Argentina to European giants Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal.

    Argentina, Brazil's neighbor and fierce rival, is seeking its third World Cup title following wins in 1978 and 1986.  The Argentines are paced by arguably the greatest player in the game in forward Lionel Messi, a prolific scorer who should lead his squad to the knockout phase as winners of Group F.  Messi has drawn comparisons to Argentine legend Diego Maradona, who almost singlehandedly lifted his country to the World Cup championship in 1986, in part, with his famous "Hand of God" goal in the quarterfinals against England.

    Germany Aiming for Fourth Title

    Germany has not won a World Cup since the East and West were reunified in late 1990, the year West Germany won its third World Cup.  Spain is seeking to defend its 2010 World Cup title in South Africa, where it beat the Netherlands, 2-1, for the championship.  Portugal has a mega-superstar in forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who snapped Messi's four-year streak with his selection as FIFA Player of the Year for 2013.  Sidelined with knee and thigh injuries, he missed two of Portugal's tune-up matches before returning on Tuesday for a 5-1 win over Ireland.  He is expected to start against Germany on Monday in the World Cup opener for both teams.

    Those two football powers are part of the so-called "Group of Death," which also includes Ghana, considered by many to be Africa's best team, and the United States, with perhaps its deepest World Cup roster ever.

    In Bernabino's view, Germany is confronting its own level of pressure.

    "Germany needs to win again," he said.  "They’ve been unsuccessful for such a long time."

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Madan Menon Thottasseri
    June 13, 2014 1:11 AM
    Neymar’s goals are confirming that he is poised to shoot many goals and he will succeed in playing relentlessly while focusing a sixth world –Cup title.

    by: r woods from: new orleans la
    June 12, 2014 9:35 AM
    Lets get ready for sum foot ball

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    More Americas News

    Venezuelan President Raises Minimum Wage

    President Nicolas Maduro's announcement of a 30 percent increase in minimum wage comes as country is experiencing rampant inflation and economic stagnation

    Rescue Operation Brings Circus Lions from Peru to S. Africa

    Animal rights group rescued more than 30 lions from abuse at circuses in Peru and Colombia, flew them to South Africa Friday in what it called largest-ever airlift of lions

    Venezuela's Top Beer Maker Halts Output in Dispute with Government

    President threatened earlier in week to seize any plants halted by private companies and hand them over to workers

    US Reports Its First Zika-Related Death

    Puerto Rican man in his 70s died from internal bleeding related to rare immune reaction to Zika virus infection in February

    Rio Olympic Flame Visits UN Office in Geneva

    Flame, which was lit in Greece last week, was brought to UN for first time before it heads to Brazil for torch relay ahead of opening ceremony in Rio on Aug. 5

    Britain Foreign Secretary Visits Cuba for First Time in Nearly 60 Years

    Philip Hammond signed several cooperation agreements on energy, education and financial services