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For Brazil, the Pressure Is Officially On

In an interview last year in the dingy Brazilian port town of Santos, Neymar Sr. described his role as father and manager to Brazil's 22-year-old soccer phenom Neymar Jr. this way: shielding his gifted child from the pressures of carrying a nation's hopes on his shoulders.

去年在肮脏的巴西港口城市桑托斯接受采访时,老内马尔(Neymar Sr.)这样描述自己作为巴西22岁足球天才小内马尔(Neymar Jr.)的父亲和经理人的角色:保护自己颇具天赋的孩子,不让他承受以一己之力背负整个国家希望的压力。

With the World Cup now just days away-the Brazil-Croatia opener is here on Thursday-it is easy to see why.


For Brazil's young and relatively inexperienced Seleção national team, managing pressure will be a key to success. Oddsmakers say Brazil is the tournament favorite on the strength of home-field advantage. But home-field advantage in Brazil also means enormous expectations. The Seleção is the only team in this World Cup for which anything but total victory will be considered utter defeat.


For starters, fans in Brazil, the winningest team in World Cup history, expect victory. But now they want something more: a win on home turf. (Explore the team profiles of all 32 World Cup teams.)


The nation is haunted by Uruguay's 2-1 upset victory over Brazil in Rio de Janeiro's Maracanã stadium back in 1950, the last time Brazil hosted the Cup. In this soccer-crazed nation, the Maracanazo loss still weighs on Brazil the way the death of a president might hang over other nations.


When former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva brought the Cup back to Brazil, an unstated policy goal was to win it at home and expunge the Maracanazo once and for all.

当巴西前总统达席尔瓦(Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva)再次为巴西争取到举办世界杯的机会时,一个未宣之于口的政策目标就是要在本国夺冠,彻底洗刷马拉卡纳之耻。

'We're going to not only hold the World Cup, but the best World Cup, without the fiasco of the final result of the '50 Cup. Without the fiasco,' da Silva promised leaders of host cities in 2010.


Brazilian bank Itaú Unibanco ITUB4.BR +3.77% has developed a computer model to gauge which teams will advance in the World Cup. Its economists include 'weight of the jersey'-the depth of each country's soccer tradition-as a positive variable. Teams with the deeper traditions are more motivated to win, the theory goes.

巴西银行Itau Unibanco开发了一个电脑模型,衡量哪些队伍将在世界杯上有出色表现。该银行的经济学家将“球衫权重”(每个国家足球传统的深厚程度)作为一个积极变量。其理论是,足球传统更深的队伍获胜的动机更强。

But the weight of Brazil's jersey is daunting.


Brazil has won the World Cup five times-although the last of those was in 2002. Brazil also has scored more goals and won more games than any other team in the 84-year history of the tournament. It is home to Pelé, arguably the best to have ever played; the game of soccer figures prominently in the South American country's national identity.


If that weren't enough pressure, this World Cup has taken on an extra dimension as a social and political flash point in Brazil since last year, when a million Brazilians took to the streets to protest overspending to build Cup stadiums while hospitals and schools go without.


Now, add the ghost of the Maracanazo.


Much of the pressure falls on Neymar, the rail-thin 22-year-old attacker charged with exorcising those demons and carrying forth Brazil's soccer tradition. A lithe, speedy goal scorer, he is widely viewed as one of the greatest natural talents on the field today. But he is still unproven. He stepped up from Pelé's old team Santos in the Brazilian leagues to heavy-hitting FC Barcelona only last year. This will be his World Cup debut.

虽然小内马尔今年只有22岁,但上述所有这些压力中的很大一部分将落在这位削瘦的前锋身上,他肩负着驱除这些恶魔、继承巴西足球传统的使命。小内马尔是一位动作敏捷、跑动迅速的得分手,他被普遍认为是当今足坛最伟大的天才球员之一。但他还没有经过太多比赛的考验。他去年才从贝利的母队巴西联赛的桑托斯队(Santos)转会到实力强大的巴塞罗那队。这是他在世界杯的首秀。 纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com

All the same, expectations are sky-high. In 2011, Brazilian news magazine Veja put Neymar on its cover with a crown on his head under the caption 'Finally a star in the lineage of Pelé.' He was 19 at the time.

无论怎样,人们都满怀期待。2011年,巴西新闻杂志《Veja put Neymar》在其封面上刊登了一张小内马尔头戴王冠的照片,照片的标题是“贝利终于有了传人”。他当时19岁。

Even Pelé, a three-time Cup winner and arguably the best ever to have played the game, has said the weight on Neymar to erase the stigma of the Maracanazo is unprecedented. 'It will be a big pressure. It will be our revenge. The idea is to wipe away that memory, hopefully this year,' Pelé said at a news conference in Paris in March.


When Pelé took the field in his World Cup debut in 1958, he was even younger at 17. But that team had older major stars to share the load.


The Brazil team around Neymar, meanwhile, is young and has relatively little World Cup experience. Among the standouts are Dani Alves, the 31-year-old Barcelona defender, David Luiz, the 27-year-old Chelsea defender, and Hulk, the 27-year-old Zenit Saint Petersburg winger. The team will look for experience from players such as 31-year old Toronto FC goalkeeper Julio Cesar, Brazil's primary keeper in the 2010 Cup.

相比之下,以小内马尔为核心的巴西队年龄都较轻,世界杯参赛经验相对较少。该队的其他主要队员还有31岁的巴塞罗那队防守球员阿尔维斯(Dani Alves)、27岁的切尔西队防守队员路易斯(David Luiz)和27岁的 彼得堡泽尼特队(Zenit Saint Petersburg)边锋“绿巨人”浩克(Hulk)。这支球队将依靠31岁的多伦多足球俱乐部队守门员塞萨尔(Julio Cesar)等球员的经验。塞萨尔是2010年世界杯巴西队的主力守门员。

Making sure the pressure doesn't get to the Seleção is Felipão, or Big Phil, the team's coach. Felipão, who also coached Brazil's 2002 World Cup champions, may be perfect for the job. He has made a name as a master of player psychology. His specialty is inspiring great performances by creating an upbeat 'family' environment in the locker room, and protecting it by growling at reporters or anyone else who might interfere with his familia.

确保压力不会影响到巴西队的是该队教练斯科拉里(Luiz Felipe Scolari),又名大菲(Big Phil)。斯科拉里曾担任过2002年世界杯巴西队的教练,当时巴西队夺得了冠军。他可能是这一职位的最佳人选。他是出了名的球员心理大师。斯科拉里的特长是激发球员在赛场打出上佳状态,他的方法是在更衣室中创造一种乐观积极的家庭氛围,为了保护这种气氛,他会对记者或任何其他可能干扰这种气氛的人大声斥责。

But even Big Phil may need backup this time around. To do it, he has hired a psychologist to counsel the team. According to the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper, Felipão and the psychologist have banned the word 'Maracanazo.'

但即便是大菲这次也可能需要候补队员。为此,他已聘请了一位心理专家为球队提供心理咨询。据报纸《Folha de S. Paulo》报称,斯科拉里和这位心理专家已禁止球员们提及“马拉卡纳之耻”一词。



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