Brazil manager Tite played down suggestions his side are now favourites to lift their sixth World Cup title after Germany’s elimination from the tournament earlier on Wednesday.
The Selecao breezed into the round of 16 with a 2-0 victory over Serbia in their final Group E match in Moscow. The South Americans were famously beaten 7-1 by Germany in the 2014 semifinals in Brazil but entered the tournament in Russia among the favourites, along with the defending champions, to win the competition this summer.
However, with Germany now out, Tite wouldn’t concede anything, telling his post-game news conference: “We don’t live in expectations, we live in reality.
“Because we did so well during the qualifiers and friendlies we created an excessively high sense of expectation, but the World Cup is a new cycle, a new format.
“We are a team who withstand pressure, who have high-quality substitutes. We look at getting stronger and improving.”
Brazil earned seven points in a group that included Switzerland, Serbia and Costa Rica but needed to avoid a loss against Serbia on Wednesday to ensure they’d reach the knock-outs.
With qualification and a Monday clash with Mexico secured, a more relaxed Tite said he’d allow himself a celebratory drink after the match.
“I’m still going to have a caipirinha tonight, I’ll allow myself!” he said. “The World Cup is made up of human relationships, you have to feel how the dressing room is established, how the players interact, the responsibility the joy, the pride, you try to balance things out.
“If you’re hyper you try to slow it down if you’re a bit low you try to hype it up. In terms of the emotion of the team, there is still more to grow. Comparatively speaking, they have grown in those three matches. From here, it is only up.”
Brazil’s performances have improved throughout the tournament, however Gabriel Jesus has yet to get on track despite being the team’s top scorer under Tite’s watch.
Calls for Roberto Firmino to replace the Manchester City man have been steady following the Liverpool forward’s breakout season at Anfield, but Tite has not lost faith in the 21-year-old Jesus.
He said: “Goalscorers live to have great games. Sometimes the final ball comes to him. Sometimes, a free kick like Thiago [Silva] had. Football is like that. These things make us reflect, think. He has this posture. One of the things that hurts most is to leave quality players out, like Firmino.”
Joining Jesus in attack against Serbia was Philippe Coutinho and Neymar, and Tite added he has a number of players who can score goals in his team.
“Thera are a number of players that will decide games, will be protagonists,” he said. “Gabriel Jesus, in his first game [for Brazil], was the protagonist against Ecuador. Paulinho, Marquinos, at any given moment played well. Alisson against Argentina. Thiago Silva, Miranda, with great regularity.” — SOCCERNET.