Bolivia vs. Brazil: Friendly Win Puts World Cup 2014 Host in Right Direction

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06:  Fred of Brazil (R) celebrates with team-mate Neymar of Brazil after scoring the equalising goal during the International friendly between England and Brazil at Wembley Stadium on February 6, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Brazil made quick work of Bolivia in their friendly, winning 4-0. Neymar had a brace with Leandro Damiao and 19-year-old Leandro netting the other two goals.

It's the first win for Luiz Felipe Scolari since his return to the Brazil national team. It's also the first win for the country since a 4-0 win against Japan in an October 16 friendly.

Hosting the World Cup can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, you get the advantage of playing each match in front of your home fans, which can be pivotal in psyching out your opponents. Just ask the 1978 Argentine World Cup winners.

The negative is that your path to the World Cup is already set, so you don't have qualifying to get your team ready. Plus, you've got to handle the weight of expectations in front of your home fans.

So far, Brazil has struggled both with building positive momentum and pleasing a rabid fanbase.

Poor results cost Mano Menezes his job, leaving Scolari to swoop in and try to get Brazil back to the pinnacle of world football, much as he did in 2002.

Prior to that, the Brazilian Football Confederation did its national team no favors by scheduling lesser competition. Putting money at the forefront, the CBF chose to stage lucrative friendlies against China, South Africa and Iraq.

In 2011, Brazil faced off with Gabon, Ghana (which was odd because it was in London), Costa Rica and Scotland. It's difficult to see what could be learned while facing off with such inferior competition.

Seemingly learning from its mistake, Brazil has had a string of friendlies against tough European and South American competition.

Although the match wasn't played in dreaded La Paz, this is still a nice win for Brazil. Playing the same weekend as Europe's biggest leagues meant Scolari had to select a side made up of only domestic-based players. This is the kind of positive momentum necessary to ensure that 2014 isn't a complete disappointment.

This is a country that has seen its reputation as the purveyors of beautiful football usurped by Spain. Losing to England and drawing with Italy illustrated just how tough a road success at the World Cup will be for Brazil.

Here's Brazil's next three friendly opponents: Chile, France and England. These matches offer Scolari a great chance to see exactly what he's got to work with.

Scolari was a punchline during his time with Chelsea for his inability to man manage and actually tactically outthink his counterparts. That won't be a huge problem in national team management. If there's one guy to get Brazil out of its hole, that man is Scolari.

It's much too early to consider Brazil as favorites for the 2014 World Cup. Spain, Germany and Italy have all looked stronger, and you can't discount Argentina, despite the event's location. But with positive results like these, the Brazilians are putting themselves in the exact right direction to build its squad for success in the world's biggest competition.