We will be legends only if we win World Cup: Brazil's Marquinhos

Brazil's Neymar (2nd R) attends a training session with teammates in Singapore on October 7, 2019, ahead of their friendly international football matches against Senegal and Nigeria. - Brazil's Neymar (C) and teammates attend a training session in Singapore on October 7, 2019, ahead of their friendly international football matches against Senegal and Nigeria. (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Brazil's Neymar (second from right) training with his teammates ahead of two friendly international football matches against Senegal and Nigeria. (PHOTO: Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — They have not won the Fifa World Cup since 2002, and the current Brazil national team players know that the only way they will be considered as legends in their country is to end that drought, preferably in Qatar in three years’ time.

Such is the pressure that comes with putting on the famous green-and-yellow jersey of the Selecao, but defender Marquinhos insists that everyone in the squad embraces the challenge of lifting the Cup for an unprecedented sixth time for Brazil.

“Our generation is very good, very high quality. But we are not the best because we have not won the World Cup,” said the Paris Saint-Germain player at a media conference at JW Marriott South Beach hotel on Monday (7 October), ahead of two upcoming friendly matches at the National Stadium.

“Brazil has had magical generations that did not win a World Cup. There were also generations that were not as good, but won the Cup and are recognised in history. So, for me, we will be among the legends and be recognised as one of the best teams in history only when we win a World Cup.”

Important step with Copa America win

The current side made an important step towards a credible challenge for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in July, when they won the Copa America, South America’s top international competition.

Yet, since their triumph in the 2002 World Cup co-hosted by Japan and South Korea, Brazil has made it past the quarter-finals only once in the last four editions. And when they did that on home soil in 2014, they suffered a humiliating 1-7 thrashing by eventual winners Germany – a defeat that has since brought a strong dose of realism in the football-mad nation.

No longer are they under the illusion that their “Samba football” – replete with dazzling skills and intricate passing – will triumph over all other football styles, admits Marquinhos.

“Many teams are playing defensive, European-style football now. They are more closed between the lines. So, it's different from the football that was played in the past, which was more attacking,” he explained.

"We have to adapt and match the Europeans to find a way to beat them, but we still want to retain our South American essence."

Criticism on inconsequential friendlies dismissed

The Brazil team that flew into Singapore – which include superstars such as Neymar, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho – will face Senegal on Thursday and Nigeria on Sunday.

This is the second time in five years that Brazil will play football friendlies at the Sports Hub. In 2014, they defeated Japan 4-0, with Neymar scoring all the goals in front of more than 50,000 fans.

Marquinhos brushed aside criticism that such inconsequential friendlies serve little purpose other than as a money-generating exercise for the Brazilian football federation, and that they place unnecessary stress on the players to travel halfway around the world.

“Club coaches and fans won’t like their players going away with the national team, but you have to consider our national coach Tite’s situation. He needs such friendlies to test the national team,” he said.

Tickets for the two friendlies are available on the Sports Hub website.

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Brazil to play 2 friendlies against Senegal and Nigeria in Singapore in October