Brazil Looking For Redemption at FIFA World Cup Russia 2018

Brazil and Germany have both competed in the FIFA World Cup Final eight times throughout their illustrious history. However, the Selecáo have emerged victorious on five separate occasions (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002), although heading into Russia 2018, Brazil face the challenge of redemption after their humiliating 7-1 loss against Germany four summers ago at FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014.

At 26, Neymar Jr in particular is the focal point of Brazil’s immensely talented and potent frontline, which features Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus and Douglas Costa to name a few. Neymar Jr will also look to repeat history for Brazil similar to Ronaldo, who after disappointing in the FIFA World Cup France ’98 final came back four years later to inspire Brazil to become World Cup winners in 2002.

At present, Neymar Jr is Brazil’s fourth all-time leading goalscorer for the Brazil national team with 53 goals in 83 games. FIFA World Cup-winning legend Romário is third with 55 goals in 70 games, whereas Ronaldo is second with 62 goals in 98 games for Brazil. Brazil’s all-time leading goalscorer is three-time winner, Pelé, who scored 77 goals in 92 games for Brazil.

However, triumph at the Russia 2018 tournament this summer would catapult Neymar Jr into legendary status. Since 1970, Brazil have competed in the FIFA World Cup final four times.

In Brazil, the expectations of winning the World Cup perennially remain large. Throughout Brazil’s rich history there have been many great players who have captivated crowds with their innate ability – Leonidas, Ademir, Pelé, Garrincha, Vava, Jairzinho, Tostao, Rivelino, Socrates, Zico, Bebeto, Romário, Rivaldo, Ronaldo, as well as Denilson, Ronaldinho, Kaká, Robinho and many more who have entertained with their entertaining Brazilian samba style.

Brazil are prominent favorites to win the FIFA World Cup, whereas Argentina, France, Germany and Spain also remain as strong favorites to win the tournament this summer in Russia.

Brazil are currently ranked second behind Germany in the FIFA/Coca-Cola Men’s World Ranking. Belgium are ranked third, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal are ranked fourth, Messi’s Argentina are currently ranked fifth, whereas Switzerland are ranked sixth. Chile (ranked ninth) and Poland (ranked tenth) are also included in the current FIFA/Coca-Cola Men’s World Ranking.

Mario Kempes, Daniel Passarella and Osvaldo Ardiles inspired Argentina in 1978, France’s exceptional team of 1998 triumphed in 1998, and the brilliant tiki-taka play of Spain mesmerized the world in 2010. Argentina have been waiting 32 years for a FIFA World Cup triumph, whereas France has been waiting 20 years. Spain of course have waited eight years for their moment of truth, although Brazil’s wait for FIFA World Cup glory has been 16 years.

Since 1998, Germany’s achievements and contributions at the FIFA World Cup have been ever-plentiful with Germany reaching third place (2006, 2010) as well as being runners-up (2002) and champions (2014). Germany’s worst finish since 1998 is being eliminated in the quarterfinals at FIFA World Cup France ’98 courtesy of a 3-0 loss to Croatia.

The relatively similar parallels between Brazil and Germany’s success thoughout the annals of FIFA World Cup history remain intriguing. Miroslav Klose is the leading all-time leading goalscorer in FIFA World Cup history, whereas Lothar Matthaus holds the record for most tournaments (1982, 1986, 1990, 1994, 1998) and appearances.

Moreover, Brazil compete in Group E with Serbia, Switzerland and Costa Rica at Russia 2018. Meanwhile, Group F sees reigning champions Germany face Mexico, Sweden and South Korea.

However, all eyes will invariably be on Neymar Jr as he looks to play an instrumental part in remedying Brazil’s four year heartache thereafter their unforgettable 7-1 loss to Germany in Brazil.

Neymar Jr will be 30 years of age in 2022 and notwithstanding any debilitating injuries or drastic loss of form, will have another roll of the dice if Brazil fail to become crowned winners this summer at FIFA World Cup Russia 2018. However, Brazil have a golden opportunity to rectify their humiliating exit in Brazil four years ago with a triumph this summer.

Ultimately, Brazil’s Neymar Jr will need to replicate the defiant sprit of Brazilian great Ronaldo and effectively exorcize embarrassment of four years prior. During his prime, Ronaldo had underperformed during the France ’98 final against France courtesy of suffering a convulsion the night before the final. At France ’98, Ronaldo was 21 years of age and was nearing 26 at FIFA World Cup Korea-Japan 2002 when he rectified the tragedy of the FIFA World Cup France ’98 final to be back on top on the world.

Fortunately, Neymar Jr, 26, has not battled a series of career-threatening injuries like Ronaldo before him. However, the Paris St-Germain superstar shares an interesting parallel with Ronaldo in terms of ascension and career trajectories, albeit Ronaldo’s FIFA World Cup win aged 17 at FIFA World Cup USA’ 94.

Brazil’s redemption story has been four years in the making. There is one stage, one opportunity and one man this summer who looks to add FIFA World Cup immortality to his resume. Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Andrés Messi will most certainly be appearing in their final-ever FIFA World Cup tournament, but will Neymar Jr upstage the aforem mentioned superstars to inspire Brazil to victory?

Dean Perretta

Dean Perretta is a 2x SEA Award-winning creative, Broadcast Journalist, Reporter, Courtside Analyst for BBC televised London Lions and Executive Producer who currently contributes to FOX Sports Radio, FourFourTwo Magazine and Muscle & Fitness Magazine.