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Gary Lim
Saturday, Jun 14, 2014

Sports

World Cup: Brash Brazil

The New Paper | Gary Lim | Saturday, Jun 14, 2014

Brazilian footballer Thiago Silva eyes the ball during a training session at the squad's Granja Comary training complex, in Teresopolis, 90 km from downtown Rio de Janeiro, on June 4, 2014, ahead of the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 tournament.

World Cup 2014 (June 12 - July 13): The big kick-off

EXCLUSIVE

Pressure is nothing new to Brazil, who head to every tournament as one of the hot favourites.

But, this time, the weight of expectations has gone up to another level altogether.

For the first time since 1950, the World Cup heads to the land of Samba football.

However, Thiago Silva, the Brazilian wearing the captain's armband, is taking it all in his stride.

In an exclusive interview with The New Paper in Paris recently, he said: "The pressure is normal, it's part of the game.

"It's good because it makes you grow stronger, and you work harder to achieve the best results.

"We have home advantage, so we have an edge over our opponents."

There is no question, insisted Silva, of the home support being a double-edged sword.

He feels that the onus falls squarely on the opponents to overcome the team every country wants to beat.

Said the Paris Saint-Germain defender: "No, home support can't be a disadvantage.

"Of course, there's a lot of pressure because of the expectations of the fans.

"But we are professionals and we know how to deal with it.

"Our opponents will be feeling more pressure than us."

The hosts kick off the tournament against Croatia in Sao Paulo tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

Their next match pits them against Mexico in Fortaleza, before they finish the group phase with an outing against Cameroon in capital Brasilia.

The Brazilian fans are expecting nothing less than a smooth ride to the knock-out stage, where things start to get tricky.

Barring any major upset, Spain or Holland will stand in their way in the Round of 16.

Silva is well aware of the difficulties involved in regaining the title they last won in 2002 but, having come through the school of hard knocks, he knows a thing or two about fighting for his goal.

DISASTER

His first foray into Europe in 2004 ended in disaster.

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