5 problems jeopardising Brazil’s World Cup hopes

5 problems jeopardising Brazil’s World Cup hopes

FORTALEZA, Brazil - Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari declared himself "satisfied" with his team's 0-0 draw against Mexico in Fortaleza on Tuesday, and the hosts remain on course to reach the World Cup knockout phase.

However, 'Felipao' admitted that improvements still need to be made, as was evident in their opening game, when they came from behind to beat Croatia 3-1 in Sao Paulo.

Here, AFP Sport looks at five areas where the Selecao could fall down in their bid to win the World Cup.

Coping with the pressure

"The demands are always much greater here in Brazil, but we are prepared," said Dani Alves after the Mexico game. Nevertheless, the Selecao have shown signs of fragility under pressure in their two matches so far.

Seeing Neymar break down in tears at the end of the rousing version of the national anthem at the Castelao brought home the enormity of what this Brazil side are trying to achieve and the amount of pressure they are having to carry on their shoulders.

Against Mexico, the nervous energy transmitted by the crowd in the early stages of the game in particular had an impact on both sets of players.

First touches were poor, passes were wayward and challenges came flying in during a frantic opening spell.

Brazil at times lack a calming presence - captain Thiago Silva is usually such a cool customer but he has apparently been unable to sleep at night due to the pressure that is as stifling as the heat in Fortaleza.

Dependence on Neymar

With the possible exception of Oscar, Neymar is the one player in this Brazil side capable of conjuring up a moment of match-winning magic from nowhere.

Fred last week insisted there was nothing wrong with giving the ball to the Barcelona man when the going gets tough. Against Croatia his was a match-winning contribution, and against Mexico he was twice denied by brilliant Guillermo Ochoa saves.

However, seeing Neymar in tears following the national anthem in Fortaleza indicated that he could do with having some of the weight taken off his shoulders.

"Neymar doesn't win or lose on his own. He is part of a group," says Scolari. "Within the group, he can sometimes be the decisive player. But he wins and loses with the rest of the team."

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