Confederations Cup: Brazil starting to justify 2014 tag

Brazil celebrate scoring in their semi-final win over Uruguay
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Brazil are on the march. First stop Confederations Cup final, next stop World Cup glory?

"Brazil have proved they can handle the pressure of playing in front of hugely expectant sell-out crowds and this is a key factor towards potential World Cup success."

After losing the Olympic final to Mexico last summer was compounded by a couple of dodgy autumn friendly results, the then-Brazil coach Mano Menezes was relieved of his duties.

The decision was swiftly made to reappoint World Cup 2002 winning coach Luiz Felipe Scolari as the man to lead A Selacao into the new year and this summer's Confederations Cup.

And despite results not immediately picking up, Big Phil has begun to work his magic with this Brazil side once more.

The former Chelsea boss has built on a resounding 3-0 friendly win over France by overseeing a blemish-free march to the Confederations Cup final, taking in four straight wins.

With the identity of their opponents for Sunday's showpiece yet to be decided, Brazil are virtually neck-and-neck with double European champions Spain to claim the cup at [2.12], ahead of La Roja's semi-final with Italy.

While a third successive Confederations Cup triumph would be cause for much celebration for the passionate Brazilian public, the bigger question remains; should they be considered the favourites to win next year's World Cup?

Currently, the hosts represent the [4.7] frontrunners to land FIFA's greatest prize on home turf next summer, despite being ranked 22nd by football's governing body.

Clear evidence towards an answer may yet be provided by a Brazil v Spain conclusion to this competition, but there is no doubt this Brazil squad are shaping into a force once more.

That win against Uruguay means A Selecao have now beaten the Copa America champions - fourth in the last World Cup - as well as their Olympic conquerors Mexico and of course Euro 2012 finalists Italy.

Neymar has undoubtedly confirmed his superstar status ahead of his big move to Barcelona (theatrics and all), while Fred has proved his worth on the international scene too.

In fact, this Brazil squad seems very well balanced between youth and experience, with the likes of young players Oscar, Lucas Moura and Paulinho all excelling at the tournament.

However, perhaps more impressively still is a new-found defensive resoluteness in an experienced and settled back four, well protected by Bayern Munich holding midfielder Luis Gustavo.

Julio Cesar, Dani Alves, David Luiz, Marcelo and Thiago Silva have been immense this tournament, only letting in three goals in the four games, which bodes really well for 2014.

Perhaps even more importantly still, Brazil have proved that they can handle the pressure of playing in front of hugely expectant sell-out crowds and this is a key factor towards potential World Cup success.

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