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30 stats for Messi's 30th birthday


Midfield key to Brazil WC success

Neymar & Gustavo_Luiz 131212 [576x324]
Luiz Gustavo, left, Neymar and the rest of Brazil’s midfielders will play a big role in the team’s success.

The parity of the 2014 World Cup field makes it difficult to decipher the clear winners and losers from last week’s draw, but given the circumstances, Brazil fans must be particularly excited about their path to the World Cup trophy. The hosts have been drawn with Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon in Group A, and will open the tournament against a Croatia team that will be without suspended Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic for at least its first game.

Brazil is now considered a 3-1 favorite to win the World Cup, and for good reason. The team is littered with individual talent from Europe’s top clubs, and virtually every player in the starting lineup is a household name. But the players are also well aware of the significance of winning an unprecedented sixth World Cup -- and in the process being compared to Brazilian greats of the past.

Given the fact that Brazil is hosting the tournament, history will certainly be nostalgic about this team if it is able to secure the trophy. This is particularly true of Brazil’s midfield, which represents the core of the squad, the key to the club's World Cup success and, ultimately, could lead it to being crowned as the best team that Brazil has ever assembled....