Zico likes host's chances, but he's worried about messi

Updated: 2014-02-16 08:38

(China Daily)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Legendary Brazilian Zico said he is worried about Lionel Messi's Argentina, but he makes his own nation the favorite to lift the World Cup on home soil in July.

Speaking exclusively to AFP, the star of Brazil's 1982 World Cup side, which lost to eventual champion Italy, said today's side is his choice to win.

Even so, he said there would be pressure for the Selecao to perform before fanatical home fans.

"That's normal; there's always pressure playing for your country. France, Argentina, England, Germany and Italy have won at home, whereas Brazil hasn't."

Brazil famously lost to Uruguay in the deciding game of the 1950 World Cup in Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

"If the other (host winners) had that pressure and won then why shouldn't Brazil?" Zico, now 60, said.

Today's generation is, he said, less flamboyant than even the 2002 winning side of Ronaldinho and Ronaldo.

"They don't play the beautiful game - they play efficiently. Well, Neymar plays beautiful stuff," he reflected, adding that coach Luiz Felipe Scolari knows how to obtain a winning blend.

Zico said that a crushing Confederations Cup win over Spain "has given motivation and confidence to fans and the team to go out and land the World Cup."

Standing in their way could be Argentina, which boasts Messi's mercurial talents.

"Argentina is Brazil's big rival owing to Messi. He can pull the strings and take Argentina to the title," said Zico.

A world club champion with Flamengo who later coached Japan, Zico insisted the World Cup would be a great occasion for Brazil, despite social tensions over the cost and poor public facilities.

Mass demonstrations marred last year's Confederations Cup dress rehearsal and although protests since then have been smaller, they have also become more violent.

"The people have a right to protest if it is in an orderly fashion without resorting to violence," said Zico, adding that violence should be "severely punished."

Asked how he saw preparations four months out, Zico said he saw "many positives".

- Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 02/16/2014 page11)