Brazil coach Tite has had the full four-year cycle to prepare for this year’s World Cup in Qatar, unlike 2018 in Russia when he took over mid-cycle after Dunga was sacked. After beating South Korea 5-1 on Thursday in Seoul, Brazil face Japan on Monday in an international friendly match in Tokyo. Brazil have not lost since falling 1-0 to Argentina in the Copa America final nearly a year ago. Japan could be a good omen.
Brazil’s Under-23 team won Olympic gold last year in Tokyo, and Brazil’s last World Cup title came in 2002 in nearby Yokohama at a World Cup co-hosted by Japan and South Korea. “In a period of four years, you can do a better job,” Tite said on Sunday, speaking at Japan’s new national stadium, the venue for the Tokyo Olympics which have been delayed for a year.
“In this period you can see a lot of mistakes, but a lot of good things. You see a lot of players. And now we see a new generation in terms of offense. Neymar scored two penalties against South Korea, but he is no longer the whole fulcrum of the attack.Three English Premier League players – Richarlison, Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus – have also scored in Seoul.
To this mix add other threats like Raphinha, Lucas Paqueta and Vinicius Junior. “As far as the partnership with Neymar is concerned, there are others who share the responsibility,” added assistant coach Cesar Sampaio, who scored three goals at the 1998 World Cup.
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“It’s not just about depending on Neymar in the attacking half. We have other creative players with speed. Japan is still the strongest team in the region. At the 2018 World Cup, Brazil beat Mexico 2-0 to advance to the knockout stages. Japan, meanwhile, trailed Belgium 2-0 in their round of 16 match before losing 3-2.
A victory for Japan would have put them in the quarter-finals against Brazil. “These are important matches in the preparation for the World Cup,” said Tite. “Even if it’s not a World Cup, they are two teams with real World Cup possibilities. That gives you an idea of the dimension of the match. Tite flattered the hosts a bit.
Japan have been drawn in what is probably the toughest World Cup group along with Spain and Germany. It seems long to reach the last 16 in Qatar.
Brazil is already among the first favorites with France, defending champion. Brazil will be favorites in a group in Qatar that also includes Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon.