Are Brazil overrated for the Confederations Cup?

Confederations Cup 2013

What comes to mind when you think of the Brazilian soccer team? Successful? Skillful? Super? Remember that going into the Confederations Cup, the Samba Boys have won just two of their last nine games. So are the Selešão still super? Or are we all victims of the “halo effect”, where our brains over-value certain teams?

The Brazilian soccer team vs. Pentacampeões

When it comes to soccer matches, there are two Brazil teams, the flesh-and-blood national side, and the legendary Pentacampeões – a spectre of past success that haunts every match the South American nation plays in.

It’s those memories of triumph that set the Brazil’s national soccer team aside from all others, and in the mind of the public, spirits them away from a completely objective appraisal.

It is a fact that the Pentacampeões are the most successful team in World Cup history – but their five victories came in two distinct periods: 1958-70 and 1994-2002. Since then, however, the team has fallen at the quarter-finals in the last two World Cups, and have won just two matches in their last nine outings.

The Pentacampeões periods stick in our minds, however, as they featured players such as Pele, Carlos Alberto, Rivelino, Rivaldo, Romario etc. Coupled with our ability to easily recollect the frequently aired wonder-goals produced by the side (especially from the 1970 World Cup in Mexico), it’s no wonder that most people perceive Brazil as a Pentacampeões-level squad, even if those sides have little resemblance to the current one.

With this image constantly reinforced by the media, it’s unsurprising that many people fall victim to the mindset: “Brazil has produced many of the world’s most skilful players – therefore all Brazilian players are skillful.

So how good is the Brazilian soccer team?

The truth is that this generation of Brazilian players has proven themselves less capable than their ancestors. By looking at data from the last 36 Brazil international games, we can give a more objective answer to the question: just how good is the Brazilian soccer team?

Consider the England team – they have won 56% of their games in the last three years. So what percentage of Brazil’s games over the same period do you think Brazil have won?

Despite being the favourite for 91.4% of their last 36 games, the Selešão have won just 54.3% of appearances – a stark difference. Some lenience could be granted to the South Americans, as the majority of these were international friendlies, and therefore a good opportunity to give younger players and new tactics some pitch time.

However, in the competitive Copa America in 2011, the side only managed one victory, despite being outright favourite for all four of their appearances. They drew with 23.550 Venezuela and twice with Paraguay at 6.720 and then 6.320.

Investigating the handicap results could give us a better picture of whether Brazil are overrated, as weightings such as the lack of incentive for friendlies are taken into account. However, the picture is equally damning for Brazil-fanatics.

The Canarinha have failed to cover the spread in 57.7% of their appearances over this period. With just 11.5% pushes, means the side only covered the handicap 30.1% of the time. In fact, so overrated (or unlucky) have Brazil been, that had you backed a side for $10 against the Brazilians on the handicap on every game over this period, you would be $74.91 in profit.

Therefore the question is, would you back any other team that had only won one of its last eight games? Or because it’s Brazil, are you giving them more credit?

Brazil’s Confederations Cup hopes

With this year’s Confederations Cup taking place in Brazil, can the South American team capitalise on their home advantage? The side has won the last two tournaments and is looking to complete a hat trick.

Their group sees them take on Mexico, Japan and Italy, all of whom they have played in the last year. Italy and Brazil drew 2-2 when they last met, while Mexico emerged victorious 2-0 and the Japanese were on the receiving end of a 4-0 drubbing.

Brazil are currently 2.390* to win the Confederations Cup.

For their opening game they are 1.296* to beat Japan again, and at 1.855* on a -1.5 handicap.

To see more Confederation Cup odds, click here.

(Source: Pinnacle

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