Brazil’s players and fans creaking under expectation

Misfiring on the field, the pressure to perform on home soil is showing

Brazilians have a terrible weakness for redemptions stories and if there is one silver lining to their side’s unmerited victory over Chile yesterday it is that the penalty shoot-out provided one.

After his error helped dump Brazil out of the World Cup in South Africa there was widespread praise for the heroics of Brazil's goalkeeper Júlio César, returned from the wilderness he was cast into four years ago. 'Ave, Cesar' saluted a relieved Lance! 'Saint Júlio César' canonised O Dia while O Globo admitted 'Júlio César Saves Brazil'.

But no-one was fleeing from the reality of what was widely seen as a desperately disappointing display by Brazil. 'Lots of Luck, Little Football' summed up the front page of Agora.

“It got to the point where it was fair to say Chile had already won the game. All that was left to decide was who would take the slot in the quarter-final,” wrote Paulo Vinícius Coelho. “Brazil needs to rethink its style and get back to having a midfield. Or it will not get past the next round.”


His colleague at Folha Juca Kfouri wondered what was coming if Felipão did not end what is increasingly seen as his blind loyalty to certain players for the sake of the team. "It is not possible that Daniel Alves and Hulk and Fred cannot be substituted, this last one with a change of system, because Jô is not the solution for anything."

Elsewhere there was concern that wearing the famous canary yellow shirt at home in a World Cup is beginning to weigh on the players.

Júlio César was in tears before the penalty shoot-out even started, saying he was emotional "after all the beautiful things my colleagues said to me". It follows captain Thiago Silva almost breaking down in tears at the pre-match press conference on Friday and Neymar's deep heaves during the national anthem in the game against Mexico.

"The expressions, physiognomy and reactions make clear – the seleção is cowering. Not so much because of the rivals. But because of the obsessive way the country deals with a World Cup," writes Carlos Eduardo Mansur in his column in O Globo.

“The blame is the type of society we have become. Perhaps we are always in search of self-confirmation, in compensation for our frustrations. And we see in football the shortest route. Therefore we have decided that 23 sportsmen are exclusively responsible for the happiness of 200 million people. As if there was no tomorrow, as if the history of football ended with this Cup. Either we win at home or it will be a huge tragedy breaking out over us. Either these 23 players resolve this giant problem that society created, or they’ll be eternal villains. It is not fair.”

Further signs that it might all be getting to the Brazil squad were in evidence after the game when technical coordinator Carlos Alberto Parreira said after the game "there is a plot in the air against the Brazilian team. The possibility of a sixth title is making many people uncomfortable".

But what is making most Brazilians uncomfortable right now is the increasingly shaky state on and off the field of their seleção.

Tom Hennigan

Tom Hennigan

Tom Hennigan is a contributor to The Irish Times based in South America