As a World Cup newbie, I will defer to John Doyle and Cathal Kelly in their assessments of the other teams. But after a year based in Brazil covering this story, I could not disagree more with their assessment of the Cup as it is unfolding off the pitch, or the sentiment of Brazilians.
Brazilians are euphoric. Even people who were total skeptics, protesters who were insisting they would boycott watching matches, have been swept up in the excitement. They are particularly pleased with how well things are going in the big picture; how happy visitors are, how much everyone is savouring their country. They're proud, and I think legitimately.
No doubt having the media centre invaded by some blue-collar Chileans heartbroken about the $1,500 (U.S.) ticket prices was a frightening moment, if you happened to be sitting there. But it was a tiny blip for fans, Brazilian and otherwise.
I have had hundreds of conversations about the Cup in the past 10 days – and I speak Portuguese well enough actually to talk to Brazilians – and there's no schadenfreude. Because there's no sense of things being a mess. And no desire to see Brazil embarrassed, in any sector of society.
Most importantly: Cathal is flat-out wrong when he says Brazilians would rather the Dutch win. First of all, no still-breathing Brazilian will ever admit that any other country plays "their" football.
More to the point, they want to win. They still think they may. And surely the collective will of 200 million people has to be worth something.