The latest edition of the FIFA World Cup begins this week from Russia, who is hosting the event for the first time ever. Just like the last World Cup four years ago, many familiar teams such as Spain, Uruguay, Portugal, Japan, and defending champion Germany will be participating. But another familiar country is the odds-on favorite to win it all. And that would be the South American powerhouse known as Brazil. Here are five reasons why Brazil may claim its sixth World Cup title when all is said and done.
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1. Neymar is healthy
Brazil's best and most popular player is back to 100 percent and ready to go when the team opens Group E play on Monday in Rostov-On-Don against Switzerland. While playing for Paris Saint-Germain in France's Ligue 1 back in February, Neymar suffered a foot fracture. He returned to the pitch in Brazil's friendly against Croatia last week and scored the only goal of the game. He's sure to score a few more over the next several weeks.
2. Championship pedigree
Brazil has the record for most World Cup championships since this event began in 1930, five to be exact. And while they haven't hoisted the prestigious golden trophy since 2002, they've collected numerous championships in other international events. That collection includes three FIFA Confederations Cups (2005, '09, '13), two Copa America titles (2004, '07), and they've medaled in the last three Summer Olympics (gold in 2016, silver in '12, bronze in '08). Brazil shines under the bright lights more often than not.
3. Favorable draw in group play
For this World Cup Brazil was placed into Group E along with the aforementioned Swiss as well as Costa Rica and Serbia. Their only major competition in this group will be Costa Rica, a team that has won five of the last seven Central American championships and sports a decent 10-4-12 record against South American teams since 2010.
4. Recent winning streak
Brazil has plenty of momentum heading into this World Cup as they've won their last five international games by a combined score of 12-0. They'll be difficult to stop should they reach the knockout rounds.
5. Constant flow of talent
Neymar is the latest in a long line of big-time goal scorers that Brazil has had in its history. He's already drawn comparisons to legends such as Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, and Kaka to name a few. Brazil has one of the best training academies in the world that develops fundamentally sound players who impact the game on both offense and defense. Between the World Cup, Copa America, Confederations Cup, and the Olympics, Brazil has the second most total championships of all South American teams in these events with 17.
-- Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.