Ramires hopes 'home' friendly can bolster Brazil
LONDON (AFP) –
Brazil are counting down the days until they host the 2014 World Cup finals and have a friendly with Russia in London on Monday as part of their warm-up programme.
Actual heat is in short supply at the moment however as the United Kingdom is currently shivering through an unusually cold March.
The Russians already know all about that as their World Cup qualifier in Northern Ireland was postponed on Friday and then again on Saturday.
Monday’s match will be held at Stamford Bridge, the home of Champions League holders Chelsea, who will supply a number of the Brazilian squad.
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari also had a short spell in charge of Chelsea before becoming one of owner Roman Abramovich’s many managerial casualties.
Midfielder Ramires is one Chelsea player who can’t wait for next year’s showpiece tournament, although the 25-year-old also admits pulling on the famous gold and green shirt of the five-times world champions can be a burden.
“It is my aim, my goal, to be involved in a World Cup at home in Brazil,” he said. “Not just to take part, but to win it. It is a great responsibility to be playing at home.
“Brazil is a huge country with a great squad, and if we win this World Cup at home we will be heroes forever. But if we lose, I don’t even know what will happen. It’s a great responsibility. There is always pressure and expectation, but hopefully we will do well and I will take part.
“I think the pressure of playing for Brazil is the same as it is for Chelsea. In both situations there are lots of expectations on you.
“You are expected to do well and win games. Maybe for Brazil it is greater because there is a whole country behind you, wanting you to do well. That’s the way it is.”
Club-mates David Luiz and Oscar will also be hoping to play their parts and Scolari has already indicated he will start on Monday with Paris Saint-Germain captain Thiago Silva and Real Madrid’s Marcelo.
Neither started in last week’s 2-2 friendly draw against Italy and Dante and Filipe Luis are expected to make way.
All eyes will be on Neymar, the man regarded as the brightest attacking talent in Scolari’s pool. The 21-year-old has constantly been linked with moves to big European clubs, including Chelsea, but the Santos star has so far resisted the lure of Europe.
That would have boosted his pay packet hugely but Neymar has compensated for that through numerous sponsorship deals in his homeland. These have proved to be time-consuming, so much so in fact that Scolari has often found himself acting as the player’s unofficial advisor.
“First of all, we talk about the normal day-to-day stuff, about life in general,” Scolari explained.
“Sometimes, we speak about investments and what he has to do to make sure he has a financially secure future. It’s not something a coach usually discusses with his players but we talk about it.”
Another man who has found his name being linked with Chelsea, who are searching for a replacement for interim manager Rafa Benitez when he leaves at the end of the season, is Russia coach Fabio Capello.
The former England manager insisted he too was only concentrating on making his way to Brazil.
“I know nothing about this,” he said. “I am really happy with Russia and focused to qualify for the World Cup.”
Russia will kick off as the world’s 10th best nation according to the FIFA ranking system, while Brazil find themselves in the unfamiliar position of 18th, below Switzerland, Colombia and Ecuador.