Brazil's Casemiro in action with Austria's Stefan Lainer REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
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Brazil to win itAs the annunciation of the 2018 World Cup draws ever nearer, with it comes the familiar specter of the mighty Selecao Brazil who are skulking ominously in search of a record-extending sixth crown.International football's most transcendent side invariably draw febrile anticipation every four years, with this occasion no different as Tite's men start the competition as overwhelming favorites. Eye-catching football has become synonymous with Brazil's legend, though somewhat incorrectly, with many quick to overlook the historical facts. Not since the 1970's cosmic team spearheaded by Pele have Brazil won a World Cup playing enterprising football. Brazil, with the imposing Claudio Taffarel in goal and the understated Dunga anchoring the midfield, conceded only three times en route to a penalty shootout win over Italy in the final.Again, that isn't to say that Brazil weren't blessed with attacking options – as evidenced by the once-in-a-generation talents of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo.In their backline were two of the greatest full-backs the game has ever produced in Cafu and Roberto Carlos while the metronomic Gilberto Silva provided the steady hand crucial to a highly functional Brazil midfield. Modern Brazil has been predicated on defensive solidity and a disciplined midfield, leavened with forwards who can unlock a game at the drop of a hat.In the intervening years the four-time champions have reached at least the semifinals in every World Cup, culminating in their 1-0 triumph over Argentina in Brazil last time out.
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