I'm not sure when I first realised how much I disagreed with the mainstream view that Brazil are the kings of world football, playing the game beautifully in a 'samba style'. Brazil is everybody's 'second team', we are told by the media and the football pundits.
But they aren't my second team. In fact, I was gutted Chile didn't knock them out a couple of nights ago.
So, why am I less than enamoured with Brazil. Here's a few reasons.
The sense of entitlement bugs me. I know it's being played in Brazil but the way the commentators talk about Brazil playing in 'their World Cup' irks me. It's the sense that Brazil somehow has a greater claim on the World Cup than any other nation. It's as annoying as the Arsenal fans bleating on about 8 years without a trophy (thank the maker that's over!) or Manchester United fans carrying on about finishing seventh.
The entitlement overflows in the way they get treated by referees. The opening game of this world cup was notable for the blatant favoritism shown to the host nation. Croatia were unjustly denied the chance to compete on an equal footing with Brazil because the refs were over-awed by the occasion.
I'm annoyed at the way the cloggers get overlooked. Yes, Brazil often have flair players who they give free rein to and that can be excting, but for every genuine world star they always have a colleciton of cloggers backing them up. Ramires is the same sneaky thug for Brazil as he is for Chelsea. David Luiz wouldn't look out of place hacking people down as part of a Uruguay team. Even Neymar got away with a blatant elbow to an opponent's face in the game against Croatia. (Which goes back to the referee's reluctance to take action against Brazil.)
People also overlook the play-acting. Hulk is one of the most guilty of the current crop of players. He seems to be wearing the slippiest boots on the planet given how many times he ends up on the floor. Athough the classic bit of Brazillian cheating was Rivaldo playing against Turkey in the 2002 World Cup. A Turkish player kicked the ball at him. It bounced off Rivaldo's knee and he went down clutching his face, getting the Turkey player red carded as a result. What a toe-rag. (He also made history as the first ever player to be fined by FIFA for simulation - yes, that's right, the first official diving cheat was a Brazilian.)
And finally, there's the simple fact that often Brazil are incredibly boring to watch. The 1994 World Cup Final in the USA is the prime example of this. I remember being told it was going to be the best game ever as Brazil faced Italy. Instead it was a turgid defensive affair that ended 0-0 after 120 minutes. One of those five stars on the Brazil badge is down to Roberto Baggio missing a penalty in the shoot out, not because Brazil were any great shakes.
So, there you go. They win with dodgy penalties gifted by awe-struck referees. They kick and elbow and dive their way to narrow wins and no one cares because of the stars on the shirt above the badge. After all, they are Brazil.