Massaro in Brazil's corner

Silvio Broli (L), the global project manager for the ACM Milan Soccer Schools and Daniele Massaro, a public relations manager at football club AC Milan and spokesperson of the Milan Junior Project attend a press conference for the launch of the AC Milan Soccer School in Singapore on May 7, 2014.

Former Italy international Daniele Massaro believes Luiz Felipe Scolari's Brazil are favourites to win this year's World Cup.

The AC Milan legend, who is in town for the grand launch of the club's football school in Singapore, believes the likes of Neymar, Oscar and Fernandinho possess enough quality to outshine anyone else when the tournament kicks off on home soil next month.

Speaking to The New Paper on Tuesday at the Marriott Hotel, Massaro, now a public relations manager for the Rossoneri, said: "I think it will come down to the same teams - Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Spain and France or England.

"I've played in two World Cups in 1982 and 1994 and you have to stay focused on the tournament for 40 days.

"If you start with a win, you take confidence. Just look at Atletico Madrid - who would have thought before the season that they would have a chance to win La Liga and play in the final of the Champions League? This is football.

"But Brazil have an 80 per cent chance of winning and maybe Spain or Germany have the remaining 20 per cent. Brazil's quality is at the top."

Massaro started his career with AC Monza in Serie B in 1979. His first taste of top flight football in Italy came in 1981 when he moved to Fiorentina.

The young striker impressed enough to draw the attention of legendary Italy boss Enzo Bearzot, and won his first cap against East Germany in 1982.

At the age of just 21, Massaro made the squad for the 1982 World Cup Finals in Spain, and, while he didn't play in any of the seven games, the youngster had a first-hand view of Italy's journey to the mountain top.

He moved to AC Milan in 1986 and enjoyed a stunning football career with the Rossoneri, winning four Serie A titles and two Champions League winners' medals, among a whole host of other Cup triumphs.

He played with some of the best footballers in the world - Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini, Ruud Gullit, Frank Rikjaard, Marco van Basten and Dejan Savicevic, to name a few - and was managed by Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello, regarded as two of Italy's finest.

He may have only managed 15 caps, but Massaro made two trips to the World Cup with Azzurri.

He was in Sacchi's squad for the 1994 World Cup Finals in the US, and was hurt badly when he missed one of the penalties as Italy agonisingly lost the final to Brazil in a shootout.

Massaro believes Italy have a shot at winning a fifth World Cup this year in Brazil, although he says reaching the semi-finals would be a good achievement for Cesare Prandelli's men.

MENTALITY

Massaro, who famously scored twice against Barcelona in the 1994 Champions League final in a 4-0 Milan rout, said: "It all depends on the mentality of the players when they leave for Brazil.

"Are we going there for a vacation because we don't have a chance to win it or are we trying to win the World Cup?

"If we try, it's possible but, for me, reaching the semi-finals is good for Italy at this time.

"The first round is not easy because we have Uruguay and England - it's crazy. We have a chance if we pass the first round because you take confidence with every win."

While head coach Prandelli has a talented crop of players to choose from, Massaro believes Italy's footballers cannot match the talent of some of the top teams in the world at the moment.

"For Italy, a lot of players started the season with injuries like Giuseppe Rossi and Stephan El Shaarawy," said Massaro.

"The quality now is not the same as Spain, Argentina or Brazil. Prandelli has good players, but in Italy it is normal that we always start with a problem.

"The players have been banned from sending messages over social media like Twitter and Facebook and they're not happy about it, so the challenge for Prandelli is to keep them focused."

Brazil have an 80 per cent chance of winning and maybe Spain or Germany have the remaining 20 per cent. Brazil's quality is at the top. - Daniele Massaro (above)

This article was published on May 8 in The New Paper.

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