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Jun 22, 2014

Is there too much emotion in the national anthem?

Neymar reacts to the anthem of Brazil, prior to a group stage match against Mexico in Fortaleza.

TERESOPOLIS, Brazil -- Last year the a capella singing of Brazil's national anthem became a symbol of support that came down from the bleachers and was carried onto the pitch by the players.

It was how Brazil won the Confederations Cup.

Luiz Felipe Scolari came out of the hole where he'd been hiding following Palmeiras relegation and took back his status as a national hero. There you go, Brazil were favorites to win their sixth world title. Clear favorites.

A year on and the team appears to have stagnated. As in the 2013 tournament, where they played well in the final against Spain but struggled in the previous games, their performances have left a lot to be desired.

And clearly nobody knows if there are still great performances to come. For this to happen, the team will need to make progress in the World Cup. We're not at a critical point, but it's worrying nonetheless.

Normally the media and the fans would be discussing the poor performances of Scolari's Boys, right? Wrong. Instead, the possible emotional instability of the players is on the agenda. The anthem, which used to be used as additional fuel, has now become a potential issue.

Strange isn't it? Convenient as well, as it means that the main issue is avoided.

The technical and tactical crisis gets less airtime. But we're not obliged to focus on this. In Saturday's training sessions, before traveling to Brasília, the coach sent out the team that started the opening game, with Hulk returning to the starting eleven. Tactical changes, going over new or specific plays; there was none of that on show. But during the course of the week other training sessions took place, and other conversations.

There are surprises in store. We're waiting for the next match. Cameroon are the weakest team in the group and this game offers the Brazilians their last chance to play with freedom and against a beatable opponent. It would be a good time to play well, test out some new tactics, win (possibly even by a clear margin) and change the entire outlook.

Who wants to bet that if Brazil play well on Monday nobody will sing the anthem again? They won't need to any longer.