The host nation, led by Luiz Felipe Scolari, came into the tournament ranked 22nd by FIFA, with only Tahiti, Japan and Nigeria lying below them. They had not played a single competitive game for over 12 months, with their last being a quarter-final loss to Paraguay on penalties.
But all doubts were wiped out when Japan were swept aside to a 3-0 loss by the Samba boys in the tournament opener. What followed reminded the world that their ranking by no means justified what they were capable of as CONCACAF champions Mexico, four-time World Champions Italy, South American champions Uruguay had little to say against a dominant outfit led by starlets in the form Neymar, Thiago Silva, Fred, Paulinho, David Luiz, Hulk, Oscar and so on.
An unbeaten run throughout saw them pitted against reigning World and European Champions Spain, for the summit clash at the iconic Maracana stadium in Rio De Jenairo. Spain, who enjoyed a similar unbeaten run en route to the final, held an imposing record of going 29 FIFA matches unbeaten, a record dating back to the group stages of the South African edition of the World Cup in 2010, when they were stunned in their opening game by Switzerland.
The grand finale was a footy purist’s delight as two of arguably the world’s best teams locked horns at an iconic venue. The Barcelona-bound striker Neymar himself conceded that Brazil would need much more than a 75,000 strong support to outclass the Spanish outfit.
But what panned out at Rio was beyond anybody’s wildest imagination as Spain were treated to a dose of their own medicine by the Brazilians who notched a 3-0 win over the world champions. It was a dominant performance from the start that saw Fred open the scoring with just two minutes on the clock and slotting in a second in the beginning of the second half.
Fan favourite Neymar sent a thumping wrong footed strike past Casillas from inside the box, warning the Real Madrid captain and the world as to what they could expect from him when he sets foot into La Liga next season. With every goal, every shot, every Julio Cesar save, every interception made, every clearance, the chorus of expectations for next year’s World cup only got higher and louder. It was a fitting end to a spectacular tournament; a rousing welcome to the big event in 2014.
Who can fathom what will pan out next year? Will the Samba boys rewrite history books? Well, we have to wait and watch for that.