Elber: Brazil too reliant on Neymar, will not win World Cup next year
Former striker says Selecao lack depth and are too reliant on superstar Neymar
It's been three years since that fateful day on July 8, 2014.
The painful memories of that humiliating 7-1 World Cup semi-final thrashing by eventual champions Germany on home soil still linger for the Selecao and their fans.
Brazil are on a mission to right the wrongs in Russia next year and they signalled their intention by becoming the first team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup earlier this March.
But their former striker Giovane Elber, 44, feels next year's football extravaganza could be too soon for his country to go all the way and win it.
The former Bayern Munich striker, who scored seven times in 15 games for the Selecao, told The New Paper in an interview on Monday: "Brazil will always be among the contenders, along with Germany, Spain and France, but Russia 2018 may be too soon for us (to win it).
"We are getting there. We had many problems after 2014, when many players left the national team.
"The current side are doing well at the moment, but it's a process and it's going to take a few more years to get back to the top."
Elber, who was in town for the annual Allianz Junior Football Camp Asia, felt that Brazil are also over-reliant on Neymar, who he counts as the only true global superstar in their national team.
"He is huge for us, the top talent in our squad, but we are definitely too reliant on him," said Elber.
"Just look at the 2014 World Cup - it was not just the fans, the media, but also our own national players, who looked to him for inspiration and put so much pressure on him.
"During my time, we had four or five superstars in any one team.
My concern for Neymar is his health. He turned pro at 17 and, if we are not careful with him, he could turn out to be the next Ronaldinho...Former Brazil international Giovane Elber on Neymar
"My concern for Neymar is his health. He turned pro at 17 and, if we are not careful with him, he could turn out to be the next Ronaldinho, who in his head was pretty much done playing at 27.
"We can't let this happen because we need Neymar to be at his best.
"And I hope players like Douglas Costa make the step up. Along with other talents like Philippe Coutinho, we need them to get their heads right."
In Tite, Elber feels that Brazil have installed the right man at the helm to rebuild and restore the fortunes of the five-time world champions.
After taking over the reins last June, the 56-year-old has guided the Selecao to 10 wins in just 11 games.
"I'm fond of the trainer. He took one year off in 2014 to go all over Europe to see what other coaches do with their talents, before taking over the national team last year," Elber said of Tite.
"Previous national coaches kept trying to do things the Brazilian way, but they don't realise it's no longer the best way by far.
"Tite recognised that and is more open-minded.
"But the bigger problem is not with the trainer, it is the fact that we lack depth.
"During my time, we had 30 to 35 players to choose from, and now we have about only 20.
"Having quite a few of our national players going to China for the money is not good for the Selecao, too.
"The level of the Chinese Super League is not as high as the top European leagues, and these players could be frustrated.
"We need them to play against top players and top teams on a weekly basis, because only competition against strong opponents can help them maintain a high level."
So, if Brazil are unlikely to win next year's World Cup, who would be Elber's pick then?
He said: "What scares me is Germany. After 2014, players like Bastian Schweinsteiger and now Philipp Lahm have retired from international football.
"But just look at how they won the Confederations Cup with their B team, and how they won the European Under-21 Championship.
"They have a lot of stars to choose from and I think they will retain their title in Russia."