Home advantage for Brazil
Skipper Silva: Home advantage for Brazil
Pressure is nothing new to Brazil, who head to every tournament as one of the hot favourites.
But, this time, the weight of expectations has gone up to another level altogether.
For the first time since 1950, the World Cup heads to the land of Samba football.
However, Thiago Silva, the Brazilian wearing the captain's armband, is taking it all in his stride.
In an exclusive interview with The New Paper in Paris recently, he said: "The pressure is normal, it's part of the game.
"It's good because it makes you grow stronger, and you work harder to achieve the best results.
"We have home advantage, so we have an edge over our opponents."
There is no question, insisted Silva, of the home support being a double-edged sword.
He feels that the onus falls squarely on the opponents to overcome the team every country wants to beat.
Said the Paris Saint-Germain defender: "No, home support can't be a disadvantage.
"Of course, there's a lot of pressure because of the expectations of the fans.
"But we are professionals and we know how to deal with it.
"Our opponents will be feeling more pressure than us."
The hosts kick off the tournament against Croatia in Sao Paulo tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
Their next match pits them against Mexico in Fortaleza, before they finish the group phase with an outing against Cameroon in capital Brasilia.
The Brazilian fans are expecting nothing less than a smooth ride to the knock-out stage, where things start to get tricky.
Barring any major upset, Spain or Holland will stand in their way in the Round of 16.
Silva is well aware of the difficulties involved in regaining the title they last won in 2002 but, having come through the school of hard knocks, he knows a thing or two about fighting for his goal.
His first foray into Europe in 2004 ended in disaster.
Injuries and health problems prevented him from making his mark at Porto.
The jinx followed him even after he moved to Dynamo Moscow on loan, during which he was stricken by tuberculosis.
It was only after he returned to Fluminese, the club he represented as a youth player, that his fortunes took a sharp turn for the better.
He said: "It was a very good experience. I spent three years at Fluminese.
"After that, I did nothing for Porto for five or six months, then Dynamo Moscow.
"It was a period of great learning in my life.
"It became the inspiration for my future."
At AC Milan, where he won the Serie A title in 2011, he developed into one of the finest centre backs in the business.
He currently plies his trade with PSG, who are widely seen as one of the rising forces in the world game.
This season, the team reached the Champions League quarter-finals, only to be knocked out by Chelsea on the away-goals rule.
But he feels that the only way the French Ligue 1 club are going is up.
He said: "I look around, and count Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City above us, and maybe Real Madrid.
"Those are strong opponents.
"But I will rank PSG as the fifth- or sixth-best team at the moment."
* Gary Lim's trip to Paris was sponsored by SingTel mio TV and Ligue 1.