As the current qualification campaign for the next World Cup continues, Brazil is feeling the pressure to perform. The five-time champions have only won two of their opening five qualifiers and will face the defending champions at the Maracana on Tuesday. Despite being used to playing big games during tournaments like the World Cup and Copa America, Brazil is not accustomed to fixtures being labeled as “must-win” or feeling desperate.
The competition in CONMEBOL qualifying is known for being intense, with each team playing 18 matches over three years and only four automatic spaces at the World Cup tournament. With an expanded 48-team tournament allowing for six South American teams to qualify, Brazil currently sits fifth in the standings and is in danger of falling out of the automatic qualification slots.
The Brazil squad is filled with stars from European games as well as several young players who will join them in the future. There are very few obvious weaknesses in the starting XI, making their current position in the standings a surprise.
Despite their fans expecting them to win every World Cup, regardless of their own strengths or those of their opponents, Brazil’s qualification is not a prerequisite but rather an assumption. They should be using these games as preparation for the tournament rather than feeling so pressured. It remains unclear how they have gotten to this stage with such a strong team, but the pressure is on for Brazil as they head into their next crucial match.