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Roberto Carlos' free kick, 20 years on


Brazil will be better prepped for 2018

The Brazilian national team's buildup for the 2014 World Cup, in which they eventually finished fourth after losing to the Netherlands in Brasília, was a "joke." For 2018, it'll be the "real deal."

The worldwide soccer schedule and the fact that they were hosting the World Cup which ended this past Sunday with Germany's triumph over Argentina in the final, meant that Brazil played very few official matches in the four-year cycle leading up to 2014. They played just nine official games, five in last year's Confederations Cup and four more in the 2011 Copa América.

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In assembling the side, former head coach Mano Menezes, and later Luiz Felipe Scolari, had to rely primarily on friendly matches, where the intensity of the game just isn't comparable.

In their preparation for the World Cup in Russia in four years' time, the "Seleção" may have the chance to play four times as many official games.

David Luiz and Brazil will have to emerge out of CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying should they want to be in Russia in 2018.
David Luiz and Brazil will have to emerge out of CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying should they want to be in Russia in 2018.

That will be because of two main reasons: The first being the fact the team will once again have to compete in South American qualifying, something they were exempt from as hosts. That in itself will involve 18 games against their continental neighbours.

The second reason comes down to competing in an additional Copa América, to be held in the United States in 2016. Given the fact they will already be competing in the continental tournament in 2015, in Chile, Brazil could play up to 12 games across these two tournaments.

They still have the chance to be involved in the Confederations Cup in Russia, to be held in 2017, should they take continental honours in Chile next summer. Taking all that into account, the "Seleção" could play 35 official matches between now and the next World Cup.

Before that, Brazil will also play some friendly matches in what remains of 2014. There are currently three in the diary: Colombia, in the United States, Turkey, in Istanbul, and Argentina, in Beijing.

For Brazil, these matches will make the team battle-ready in Russia, something that was clearly lacking this summer on home soil.