The team that have won a third of World Cup trophies since 1958 will kick off their latest campaign on Sunday, facing a Switzerland side who arrive in Russia in good form.
Brazil exited the tournament in the worst fashion four years ago, getting hammered 7-1 by Germany in front of their own fans. Their eventual fourth-place finish was written off as a failure.
Having waited four years to wash away that stain, they will look to make a strong start by imposing their authority in Group E.
Out to frustrate them will be a Switzerland side who are quietly confident of progressing to the knockout phase. That task can be achieved without getting a result in this game, so they might approach this clash with a ‘nothing-to-lose’ mentality.
Ahead of this intriguing encounter, we give you 5 good reasons to tune into this game.
1 Assessing the favourites
Spain have set the benchmark for team play. Ronaldo has shown the difference that individual brilliance can make. What can Brazil bring to the World Cup party?
Starting the tournament as favourites would faze many teams. But not Brazil. Despite what happened four years ago, they still believe they are born to win this competition.
As part of the fabric of the tournament, they feel obliged to deliver a certain brand of football. To entertain and win.
Ahead of this event, they have been universally backed as probable winners. No team has thrilled as much with their football over the last few years while remaining defensively impermeable.
But now it is time it deliver, and all eye will be on Tite’s men on Sunday. Anything other than win against Switzerland could raise the demons of 2014.
2 Time for redemption
Only Marcelo, Paulinho, Willian and Fernandinho remain from the line-up that was humiliated by Germany four years ago and all four will look for redemption here.
Fernandinho may have to bide his time and wait for a chance from the bench but the other three should be part of the starting XI.
While they will look to relieve themselves of that burden, the rest of the team can play with clear consciences including Neymar who missed that game through injury.
But what makes up redemption? For Brazil fans and those players involved, it may take a World Cup win to lay that ghost to rest. And the consensus is that they have a squad capable of doing it.
3 Can Firmino force his way into the starting XI?
Considering the level that Roberto Firmino has played at since arriving at Liverpool three years ago, it seems inconceivable that he does not feature more for his country.
He has scored 26 goals in all competitions for his club last season, adding 14 assists, and knows what it takes to operate across a dynamic front three. He also has great defensive skills and can press defenders to great effect in their own half.
Key stat: Roberto Firmino won more than tackles (62) and created more chances (53) than any Premier League player last season.
But when you look at who he is up against, it all becomes clear. Gabriel Jesus may be just 21 years old but he is already a hero in his home country. His profile is much higher than Firmino’s and he is the player that Brazil fans want to see starting. For all the Liverpool man’s talent, Jesus is Brazil’s golden boy.
With ten goals in international 17 appearances, Jesus has staked his claim as the main man in Russia. However, if he does not deliver in the groups stages, he could find his place under threat. Meanwhile, Firmino will look to impress when called upon from the bench.
The battle for the Brazilian striking role is one that is set to intrigue throughout the tournament.
4 Sixth-ranked Swiss out to upset the odds
Switzerland status as dark horses is contradicted by their sixth place in FIFA’s ranking.
Their lofty position has been achieved thanks to a combination of soft friendly fixtures and a strong World Cup qualification record. It also makes it hard to assess their true level coming into this tournament.
Vladimir Petkovic's men have rarely been tested against top-level oppositions.
The only team of note they faced at a competitive level since losing to Poland at Euro 2016 was Portugal in World Cup qualifying. They beat them 2-0 at home and fell by the same scoreline in the return fixture.
Key stat: Switzerland kept conceded just one goal (to Spain) in their last seven matches in all competitions.
But in that same spell, they scraped to 1-0 wins over Latvia, Belarus and Greece, a 2-1 win over Andorra and drew 0-0 at home to Northern Ireland.
However, a recent 1-1 friendly draw against Spain suggested their progression might be genuine.
The Swiss question will finally be answered in Russia.
5 World Cup heritage on display
No team has a deeper association with the World Cup than Brazil.
They have won more titles than any other nation, and many more World Cup records are associated with the Brazilian national team.
Here are just a few World Cup records than are held by Brazil:
- Brazil have won more World Cups than any other team (five).
- They have achieved more top 16 finishes than any other team (20).
- Brazil jointly hold the record (with Germany) for the most top-eight finishes (17).
- They are the only team to appear in every tournament since 1930.
- They are one of only two teams to have defended their title (Italy are the other).
- Brazilian legend Pele is the only player to have won three World Cup winners medals.
- Cafu is the only player to have played in three World Cup finals
What are you looking forward to when Brazil meet Switzerland on Sunday? Let us know by commenting below.
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