Brazil. A Selecao. Canarinho. They've helped form the football landscape all around the world with their phenomenal conveyor belt of talent and their care free attitude to football and the way they skilfully play the game. When you think of trickery in football and teams who love to entertain, you think of Brazil.
So far the World Cup in Brazil hasn't disappointed. It's been superb right from the start and as spectators we've been served up a shedload of excitement.
There've been a few disappointments though, most notably England's woeful campaign, Spain failing to turn up and the Luis Suarez biting incident, amongst a few other things. For me though, the standout negative has come from the host nation themselves, Brazil. Is what they've served up so far really the best they can offer? Is this really a Brazil side that's expected to win the World Cup?
Perhaps immediately comparing this current set of Brazilians to some of their past stars is a tad harsh, but it's simply what we're used to seeing. Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Cafu, Roberto Carlos, Lucio, Dunga. The list goes on and on. As I said above, it's a nation that have produced some phenomenal talent, especially in attacking areas. Problem is, I'm struggling to find a player near their levels at the moment, apart from Neymar. Can he really do it all by himself? I'm not so sure.
Looking around their side, the likes of Oscar, Paulinho, Fernandinho, Gustavo, Fred and a few others are obviously talented footballers and have their own strengths and weaknesses, as every footballer does, but they're hardly the traditional, typical Brazilian footballer we're so used to seeing. Neymar is the only one who really lights up games and reminds me of those familiar classic runs we're so used to seeing from such a side.
Of course with pressure comes errors and understandable nerves, I don't doubt that, it's their ability I'm casting doubt over. They're winning, they're progressing and their incredible home support is clearly, for want of a better term, their twelfth man. All of these ingredients could, of course, bring the World Cup home for them, but as a spectator, watching this frankly dull, workmanlike, un-Brazilian style is hard to endure.
Fred has been the scapegoat this World Cup campaign, and rightly so. Compare former Brazil no.9's to the veteran and it's frankly embarrassing to see the yellow and green army with, bluntly put, an oaf upfront. This is an oaf who wouldn't look out of place in most mediocre World Cup sides. He occupies centre-halves, wins a bit in the air and is meant to be a tidy finisher, but we just haven't seen it. Meanwhile, I look at clips of Ronaldo against Scotland in the World Cup of old or clips from his Barcelona days and it's utterly depressing when compared to a Fred tap in.
I expect Brazil to go far and possibly even win it, but this is by no means a typical Brazil side. Phil Scolari has built a new machine, it's well documented, but it's a Brazil side I'm really struggling to fall in love with. I wonder if the Brazilian public are feeling the same? It's all a bit, well.. of a let down.
By Mitchell Stevens - Oxford United fan