Samara (Russia): Brazil coach Tite refused to criticise striker Neymar after an incident in which the Brazil striker appeared to once again be guilty of over-reacting following a possible incident on the touchline in the second half of Brazil’s 2-0 win over Mexico to book their place in the quarterfinals of the World Cup.
Neymar needed four minutes treatment after clutching his shin following a possible aggression by Mexican substitute Miguel Layun although TV replays show that any contact, if I existed was extremely slight, according to Xinhua.
“I saw what happened, everyone who is watching, and you can see the image,” said Tite, before praising the forward, who scored the opening goal in their 2-0 win over Mexico.
“Neymar was out of action for three and a half months, that is a lot at the top level. A top-level player needs 4 or 5 matches to recover, he played well in the last game and today he repeated his excellence,” he said.
Neymar was also asked about the incident but preferred not to discuss it saying he felt accusations of play-acting were “an attempt to undermine me.”
“I don’t care about criticism or praise, because that can influence your attitude. I haven’t talked to the press, because I don’t want controversy,” he said in the post-game press conference.
Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio had earlier slammed Neymar for his attitude, although he refused to name him specifically.
“I think it is a disgrace for the game that you lose so much time for one single player...I don’t think that is a good example for football or followers of football. It is a game for tough people and not to act like a clown,” said Osorio.
Meanwhile, Tite was pleased with Brazil’s performance, saying; “We had 21 chances, it was a great game and I really enjoyed it. Our transitions were really quick.”
He also had praise for winger Willian, who set up Neymar for the first goal and was a massive influence in the second half.
“Willian has been playing really well, sometimes he suffers tactically, it’s not that he has too much work, but he does a lot, but in the second half today he was allowed to shine,” said the Brazil boss.
Their win against Mexico may have taken them one step closer to the title they haven’t won since 2002, but still left some questions to be answered.
In the first 45 minutes against Mexico, Brazil again struggled to get the ball to their best players on a regular basis, due partly to a pragmatic midfield of Casemiro and Paulinho.
Casemiro performs the holding role he has adapted to so well at Real Madrid, but at Real Madrid he is accompanied by Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, two of the best passers in the game, while with Brazil he is accompanied by Paulinho.
Paulinho has had a good season with FC Barcelona, where his ability to break into the box and score key goals was important, but that doesn’t make him one of the great passers in the game.
In the past, Brazil would have had Dani Alves and Marcelo tearing upfield from full back, but injury ruled Alves out of the tournament and a hotel mattress (apparently) saw Marcelo start on the bench against Mexico.
His replacement Felipe Luis usually is more solid defensively and gets forward well but has just come back from a broken leg, while, Fagner, who played on the right is no Alves. As a result Brazil struggled to play the ball out as long as Mexico were able to maintain their pressure high up the field and had Mexico been a bit sharper upfront or maybe had a bit more faith, they could have made them pay.