by Robbie Blakeley

Yesterday afternoon, in Malmo, Sweden, Brazil played fellow world-beaters Iraq in a friendly. The game was supposedly designed to help the team prepare for the 2014 World Cup, which will be held in Brazil and therefore heaps mammoth amounts of pressure on the shoulders of coach Mano Menezes and his players.

The most worrying factor was however that the CBF, the Brazilian Football Confederation, succeeded in claiming this friendly, which Brazil won 6-0 at a canter, was a worthwhile exercise whilst maintaining a straight face.

The big news in the Brazilian media was the rebirth of Kaká, who scored one and linked up well with Chelsea playmaker Oscar, seen as the natural successor to the number 10 shirt, ahead of fellow prodigies Lucas and Ganso.

But for all it will have told Menezes about the strengths, weaknesses and mentality of his squad, the CBF may as well have arranged a kick-about with Halifax Town.

Let’s spell something out – Iraq won’t be at the World Cup. Ergo Brazil will not need to beat Iraq to win the World Cup, something 170 million Brazilians are demanding, partly as a matter of national pride, partly to finally rid the nation of the horrors of the 1950 final.

Brazil will, however, need to beat Spain. They will need to beat Argentina. They will need to beat Germany. Menezes’ record against top class opposition is woeful; he has not won a single game against Argentina, France, Holland or the Germans.

After losses to France and Germany last year, the CBF hastily rearranged future games against strong countries so the Seleção could brush aside the mighty Gabon, the fearsome Chinese and challenging Iraqis.

After putting eight past China there were another six yesterday. But simply feeding player egos against fifth-rate opposition will spell disaster come 2014.

As hosts, Brazil do not need to qualify for the World Cup. That means the side won’t be playing competitive football (unless you count the Confederations Cup – I, for the record, don’t) until kick- off in 2014.

The least the CBF needs to be doing is making sure the side are playing high-calibre opponents in the run-up to the tournament. Serving up cannon fodder may appease the public for a few weeks but remains a short term solution.

Menezes needs to think and plan long term. Menezes needs to face the big guns in further dress rehearsals before opening night.