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Brazil’s soccer soul: A love too deep to bear?

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Story highlights

The so-called 'spiritual home of football' is playing host to the World Cup

The sport has played a powerful role in shaping the Brazilian national identity

The national team mirror many of the key issues in Brazilian society

On Friday the fate of the nation once again lands at the feet of its stars

Editor’s Note: How are you celebrating the World Cup? Join the global conversation on CNN Facebook Pulse.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil CNN —  

On any other day, Copacabana Beach has a hypnotic ability to relax its guests. Its crescent-like coast – where coconut water is coolly sipped, Brazilian sun beats down and hodgepodge hotels stand, juxtaposed against the dramatic peak of the Sugarloaf Mountain and her sisters – calms the most stressed-out of Cariocas and turns city-workaholics into lackadaisical loungers.

But not on this day; currently there is a very different atmosphere on its golden sands.

Events have conspired for the benevolent beach to now act as a gritty site of torture, where the searing heat is only adding to the discomfort of the thousands gathered. Nearly all to a man are wrapped in yellow and wracked with anxiety. Many hide their faces, unable to bear the sights their eyes witness, struggling to contemplate the repercussions of events that are transpiring.