Unique fans can drive
BRAZIL have lifted the most famous trophy in football on five different occasions, and former player Rivaldo believes that the unique pressure the country’s fans place on their star players will drive the squad on in Russia.
Since their first title in 1950, Brazil are currently experiencing the secondlongest wait to lift the World Cup. Only the gap between the 1970 and 1994 triumphs is longer than the 16 years since Rivaldo, Ronaldo, Cafu et al claimed the title in Yokohama.
It might not seem like the most arduous experience for Brazilian supporters, who still had three Confederations Cups, a brace of Copa Americas and Olympic gold in Rio to toast.
But Rivaldo, a star of the runnersup to France in 1998 and the winners four years later, is acutely aware that second won’t cut it in Russia.
“It’s difficult because of the pressure from the fans,” he said.
“It has turned into a tradition because Brazil are expected to win and the players have to deal with that pressure.
“But sometimes a bit of pressure can motivate the players. Other countries do not have the same level of pressure. The pressure is good because it is part of being a player in certain countries football is a part of their culture.
“The pressure is difficult but that’s the reason why Brazil have won the World Cup five times.”
However, that pressure brings no guarantees.
“(Brazil) have always been strong and have always qualified for the World Cup,” Rivaldo said.
“We are always the favourites but I don’t know if we are this one. I hope they perform well and get to the very end and win the trophy.”
The demands placed on the national team are only heightened by the experience of the 2014 World C u p , wh e n G e r ma n y humiliated the host nation in a 7-1 drubbing that will forever scar the nation.