Glenn Hoddle: I've not been impressed with Brazil
The former England Manager continues his blog from Brazil.
Let’s kick off my williamhill.com predictions with today’s opening game – and I see a shock. Why? Because I think Brazil will struggle in this tournament to come to terms with the heavy load of expectancy on their shoulders.
Not just the pressure of being the hosts, but also the political pressure the government out here is putting on the players to come up with a great performance to take the spotlight away from the strikes and civil unrest.
To be fair I haven’t seen much of any protests since I arrived, but then ITV have based us out by the beach here in Rio. That said, I have seen the problems on Brazilian TV. There is so much emphasis being put on the opening game and how important it is for Brazil to get off to a winning start and calm everything down.
For that reason I am going for a draw between Brazil and Croatia – if I was having a punt I’d be tempted to go 1-1. I have a hunch about a draw, although if Brazil do win, it might be they just sneak over the line, because it is going to be close, much closer than anyone has anticipates.
I’ve not been impressed with Brazil in their warm up games, I’ve not seen anything that makes me thing that they will frighten the opposition and should be ranked favourites.
I think this is a really open tournament. But I really don't fancy Brazil to win it – I think they have big frailties defensively.
In fact when I watched them out here playing Fluminense they won 5-3 but they could have conceded a few more goals in the last five minutes.
Maybe they have big time players who will come alive once the tournament kicks off such as Neymar, we shall see.
But they have Fred as their main striker – for me, not exactly a prolific goalscorer! I suppose it’s a case of Not Right said Fred!
I’ve not caught the World Cup bug as yet. I am sure I will once it kicks off later, but for the time being I’m now off to an authentic Rio cafe to film along with Ian Wright and Gordon Strachan for part of ITV’s extensive coverage of the opening game.
I would have thought there would be Brazil flags and FIFA flags wherever you go, but it’s not been like that, it feels very low key here in Rio, I haven’t felt that World cup fever you might have expected.
It was quite lively the other night on the Copacabana Beach where they had a fans zone.
But generally I wouldn’t describe it as negative, just lacking atmosphere.
What I do love is even from my window I can see all day and all night people playing keepy uppy on the beach or endless games of head tennis. There is goal post after goal post. It really is amazing.
If England is the home of football, I fully agree that Brazil is the spiritual home of the game.
I’ve been to the World Cup now both as a player and manager. It’s a world of a difference, They're chalk and cheese.
As a player you just have got yourself to prepare, mentally and physically. You've got your duties as a player individually, and the pressure's on, but you are looking after one person really.
As a coach you are looking after the whole group – every player, every staff member, and you have got the pressure of your country building up.
But it was a fabulous thing to have and a proud moment to walk out as a player and a manager. You can't beat that for the sense of achievement, it's a wonderful feeling.
Just think how the England players – and Roy Hodgson – are feeling right now…
*Glenn Hoddle is part of the ITV team for the World Cup, while he is also a leading pundit with Sky.