Brazil Gets a Head Start on World Cup Anxiety

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By Mayara Vilas Boas

Carlos Albert Parreira said on Monday that it would be "unimaginable" for Brazil, the host of the 2014 World Cup tournament, to lose. "The pressure will be enormous," said Parreira, 69, who managed Brazil's 1994 World Cup champions. "Brazil will have to be perfect both on and off the field."

2014 will mark the 64th anniversary of Brazil's only home loss in the World Cup, and give the country a chance to erase the legacy of an event that still gnaws at the national soccer psyche.

Parreira suggested that Brazil's current coach, Mano Menezes, take full advantage of the next two years to define Brazil's team strategy. The 2012 London Olympics might be Brazil's "golden chance" to work out any kinks.

That's all fine. But as hard as it may be for Brazilians to imagine losing at home, it may be helpful for us to do a little preparation in case Brazil isn't victorious in the final game at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro in July 2014. The question is, who will be blamed if the "unimaginable" were to happen?

A little history helps to put this in perspective. Moacir Barbosa Nascimento -- among the world's best goalkeepers in the 1940s and '50s -- was the scapegoat in Brazil's "maracanazo" against Uruguay in the 1950 World Cup. Barbosa lived the rest of his life as a pariah, both socially and professionally. Shortly before his death in 2000, he told an interviewer that the suffered the greatest penalty ever endured by a Brazilian: 50 years in isolation, more than the 30-year maximum sentence spelled out in Brazil's criminal code.

That's a sobering thought for the galaxy of stars who will play for Brazil's 2014 team. They are revered now. The expectation is they will add a sixth title to the five Brazil has already won, more than any other country. But it's frightening to think about what might await one -- or all of them -- if they fall short

(Mayara Vilas Boas is on the staff of Bloomberg View. Follow her on Twitter.)

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-0- Apr/04/2012 18:26 GMT