2010 FIFA Preview: Brazil

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 15: Luis Fabiano of Brazil warms up prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group G match between Brazil and North Korea at Ellis Park Stadium on June 15, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

    BRAZIL
    FIFA RANK: 1

    The term "Dynasty" is often thrown around in professional sports. In the NFL, you have the Pats of the past decade, the Cowboys of the early 90's, the 49ers of the 80's and the Steelers of the 70's. In the NBA, the Lakers and Celtics dominated different decades and have combined to win more than 30 titles. The Jordan led Bulls won 6 championships in the 90's and I'll even throw in the Spurs who won 4 titles in the past decade, sorry, but I had to do it Mavs fans. The Yankees have won 27 World Series and the Canadiens have 24 Stanley Cups. In soccer, no one nation defines the term better than Brazil.

    The resume at the World Cup is untouchable. Brazil is the only nation to have played in every World Cup, dating back to 1930. They've won more titles (5) than anyone and haven't failed to make it out of the group stage since 1934! The players are legendary with names such as Pele, Ronaldo, Romario, Zico and Bebeto. The Brazilians are credited with inventing the term "The Beautiful Game" and their nickname "A Selecao" which means the selected few says everything you need to know.

    But despite all the historical success, this team was at a crossroads when it was eliminated from Germany '06 in the quarterfinals. That squad went into the World Cup with so much hype, you would have thought they could walk on water. The roster was filled with stars who ultimately played more as individuals rather than a team. After that disaster, the Brazilian Football Confederation decided to change course on its future and made a surprise move by hiring a defensive drill sergeant to lead the team, former captain Dunga.

    Dunga was the defensive force that led "A Selecao" to the World Cup title on US Soil in '94. That team, like all Brazilian teams, was known for its flare and creativity up front, but it was Dunga who held down the fort during a scoreless penalty kick victory over Italy in the final. Dunga's impact as coach was immediately felt. This team is now centered on dare I say...defense! Yes, the Brazilians now focus on toughness, hard work and commitment to small details. That was evident when the coach did not bother to select the popular Ronaldinho to even make this World Cup squad.

    Don't get it twisted though, the stars are still all there and they are some of the best in the world. Luis Fabiano is a clinical finisher. Kaka is a free-flowing attacking mid-fielder who can crack one from anywhere on the pitch. Dunga has also put together a physical, nasty defense with Lucio, Felipe Melo and Maicon. And keeper Julio Cesar is one of the world's best between the posts.

    Soccer is a way of life in many countries, but few have come close to the success the Brazilians have had and you can count on them being there at the end. There is no such thing as second place for the South American powerhouse. A trait that's made them a true "Soccer Dynasty" for 80 years running.

    MATCH SCHEDULE:
    June 15th VS. North Korea - 1:30pm CT (Brazil should have this wrapped up by halftime)
    June 20th VS. Ivory Coast - 1:30pm CT (Intriguing matchup only if Drogba is effective for Ivory Coast, otherwise, Brazil cruises)
    June 25th VS. Portugal - 9am CT (If Brazil needs points and I think they will, this will be best match of group)