SAMARA: A comparison with Carlos Alberto Parreira’s Brazil of 1994 cracked the mirror of Tite’s happy countenance. Till then, satisfaction was oozing out of his face after Brazil displayed controlled aggression to dispatch Mexico at the Samara Arena on Monday.
It was definitely not the Brazil which thrives on people’s fantasies, the class of 1982, soaked in Tele Santana’s philosophy of attacking glamour with no guard at the back door.
Tite was not amused. “Every team has its own characteristics and we have ours. I respect those who came before me to guide the Selecao and I learnt from them. Now, let us define our own style,” was how Tite responded to the allegation that Brazil impressed more with their defence than attack against Mexico.
Brazil’s obsession with style had led to their downfall on several occasions and Tite is not going to tread the beaten path. Neither is he going to stop Neymar from holding on to the ball in the attacking third as much as he likes.
“Is it a sin for Neymar to dribble in the opponent’s half? I want him to do that. He is agile and fast. He likes to feign and provoke defenders. These are the characteristics of Brazilian soccer. I am not going to change that for anything,” said Tite.
Neymar’s theatrics near the touchline, after Miguel Layun took his ankle to be a doormat, halted the game for around seven minutes and attracted critical comments from Juan Carlos Osorio. Tite promptly launched his defence. “Please look at the video and you will see the truth. Neymar plays football, he doesn’t stand on people, they stand on him. I was standing next to where the incident happened and it happened right in front of my eyes.” For the fourth successive game, Brazil’s defence, marshalled by Thiago Silva and Joao Miranda, has been resolute.
Silva seems to have found a second wind under Tite. His understanding with Miranda and the duo’s towering aerial defence has got the insurance that Brazil lacked in recent years. With two second-choice wing-backs in Fagner and Felipe Luis, the back four has only conceded one during their passage to the quarters. No wonder they call Tite the ‘professor’ – he likes an opportunity to explain in minute detail the work he and his group are doing. “We don’t mark the man, we mark the sector. And this is the case in every match.
We change some things according to the team, but we always mark zones with aggression and determination. People always look to disparage things, they criticise our style but it works for us, we’ve only conceded one goal.”
Tactical changes led to improvement in Willian’s performance in the second session said Tite. “Switching to 4-4-2 in the second session gave us more fluidity, cut down their passes and we could spread the game wide. The reason why you saw Willian excelling in the second session,” the coach said.
The rallying power of Belgium will put to test his quest for balance as Tite seeks to last the distance in a tournament that has thrown more upsets than stars.