Hosts Brazil want to win in style
Can Scolari and his Selecao deliver?
BRAZIL v CAMEROON
(Tomorrow, 4am, SingTel mio TV Ch 141 & StarHub TV Ch 223)
Good things don't always come in pairs, as Luiz Felipe Scolari is finding out.
Brazil's World Cup campaign hasn't gotten off to the flying start an entire nation was anticipating.
A jittery 3-1 victory over Croatia in their opening game was helped largely by poor refereeing decisions and the team were subsequently found out by a gritty Mexican side who held them to a goalless draw.
Their progress to the second round now hinges on the result of their final group match against already-eliminated Cameroon tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
Just victory won't do. Brazil expect their national team to win in style.
Scolari, in his second stint as Brazil coach, has drawn flak for the unconvincing performances.
Criticism ranges from his persistence with striker Fred in his starting line-up to his training methods ahead of the Cameroon clash.
The 65-year-old is a victim of his own success.
In his first spell in charge, he guided the Selecao to the 2002 title in Japan and South Korea.
TROPHY, NO LESS
Now, with the tournament held on home soil, Brazilians are even less prepared to accept anything other than the trophy.
They see a world-beater in Neymar, the forward whose exquisite skills rival the best in the world.
Yet, the 22-year-old forward is the only gem among unpolished stones.
Scolari's efforts to calm and reassure his countrymen is a lonely one.
No one bothers to remember the brilliance of the squad he was entrusted with 12 years ago, or to compare it with the current cohort for perspective.
The team that beat Germany 2-0 in that final were a coach's dream.
They had the offensive trio of Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Rivaldo up front, and the supporting, overlapping fullback cast of Cafu and Roberto Carlos.
In Brasilia tomorrow morning, Neymar will probably be surrounded by Oscar, Hulk and Fred - able men but no exceptional artists with the ball - in the final third of the field.
Few will care.
But it's not all doom and gloom.
A return of four points from two matches hardly presents a case for panic. England got none and are already out of the competition and they aren't panicking yet.
Germany, Europe's standard-bearers, have the same tally, while Argentina have been atrocious despite claiming maximum points.
Brazil's performances haven't swept anyone off their feet yet, but they haven't been appalling either.
Scolari will use all his experience to steer the ship clear of hidden boulders.
He has, on paper, a sound defensive line-up to counter the over-reliance of Neymar in front.
Thiago Silva and David Luiz in the middle look a better partnership than many Brazilian central defences in the past.
Luiz Gustavo and Paulinho are disciplined midfield workhorses who put the team before themselves.
History has shown that few championships are won by teams with the most conspicuous swagger.
Just as good starts don't always finish with happy endings.