TERESOPOLIS, Brazil (AP) — Goalkeeper Julio Cesar thinks Brazil's initial World Cup difficulties are a consequence of the team's convincing victory at last year's Confederations Cup.
The win in the warm-up tournament for the World Cup marked Brazil's reawakening after a series of disappointing results, but it also made the five-time world champions a bigger target.
"Because of how we won the Confederations Cup, teams started paying more attention to us," Cesar said. "Teams are respecting Brazil now, everybody comes playing on defense because they are more aware of what we can do."
Brazil lifted the Confederations Cup trophy after five straight wins, culminating with victory over defending champion Spain in the final at the Maracana Stadium.
"I think the other teams are studying more how we play and that makes it a bit more difficult," Brazil left back Marcelo said Friday.
Brazil had a comeback 3-1 win over Croatia the World Cup opener, taking the lead on a contentious penalty, before being held to a 0-0 draw by Mexico in its second match. It needs at least a draw against Cameroon on Monday to advance to the second round — a win will likely guarantee that it moves on in first place in Group A.
"These first matches were different, but we know that fans will always want to see that team from the Confederations Cup," Cesar said.