Following their arrival in South Africa, Brazil have announced that they are to play two friendlies on the continent before the start of the World Cup.
Beginning with Zimbabwe on June 2nd, they then travel to Tanzania on June 7th – just four days before the tournament begins and eight before their opening game.
The Brazilian FA have requested an appearance fee of “several million dollars” according to the BBC, and their preparations resemble those of 2006, where they faced New Zealand just ten days before their opening game at the World Cup, which ended in defeat to France in the last eight.
Yet when Brazil won the World Cup in 2002 they took an entirely different approach in the build up to the tournament. They played just two friendlies in March and one in April before opening with a 2-1 victory against Turkey.
Prior to their success in 1994, they played Iceland in early May, winning 3-0. Interestingly, their final friendly matches before both World Cup wins was exactly 46 days. So could their change of approach harm their bid for glory just as it did four years ago?
Well, Spain remain world cup tournament favourites and they have taken an almost identical approach, by organising games for June 2nd and 7th, although they don’t take on Switzerland in their opener until June 16th (a day after Brazil).
England have chosen to play their final game on May 30th, against Japan, and will have 12 days to get ready for their opener with the USA. Meanwhile, Argentina are having the longest pre-tournament rest of the top four favourites, with a break of 18 days.
But does a longer rest gain the ultimate advantage? A look over previous victors suggests that it may not make a difference.
Italy, winners in 2006, decided to have two friendly matches 12 and 14 days before their opening fixtures, whilst France, winners in 1998 played a friendly match just seven days before their opener. West Germany contested a game 10 days before their 1990 campaign.
This ultimately means that the last five winners of the World Cup have had 12, 46, 7, 46 and 10 days without a match before lifting the trophy. This would seemingly show there’s little evidence to argue that Brazil will be harmed by their insistence on playing their lucrative friendly – so don’t let it put you off backing them at 9/2.