Brazil and coach Luiz Felipe Scolari cannot help but have one eye on next year’s World Cup on home soil, but if the acid test is 12 months away the countdown starts Saturday when the Selecao take on Japan in their Confederations Cup opener.
Scolari led the Selecao to their fifth World Cup, a coronation sealed in Tokyo 11 years ago.
But the fact he is back for a second spell at the helm is evidence of the degree to which impatience and concern rule hearts and minds across this giant footballing nation given a clutch of disappointing showings at major events ever since.
Brazil’s star man Neymar says the hosts will not take the Japanese, coached by Italian Alberto Zaccheroni, lightly. “Japan are a tricky proposition and not to be underestimated. Keisuke Honda and Kagawa are superb players and the team as a whole mark you very tightly.”