Sochi, Tuesday @PeopleSports11
Brazil’s inability to keep their emotions in check contributed to their spectacular implosion at the 2014 World Cup, so the worry is that once again the pressure might prove too much for the ‘Selecao’ in Russia.
The enduring image of the 2-0 win over Costa Rica that kick-started their campaign in Saint Petersburg last Friday was Neymar’s tears at full-time, after he scored the goal that clinched the victory.
The world’s most expensive player is carrying the weight of the nation on his shoulders, and only recently returned from three months out after a foot operation.
However, seeing Neymar cry also brought back memories of Brazil’s unravelling as hosts four years ago.
Then, Thiago Silva and Neymar were among the players who memorably broke down in tears at the end of their penalty shoot-out win over Chile. At the time, some sections of the media labelled the team crybabies, and 1970 World Cup-winning captain Carlos Alberto accused them of not being mentally tough enough.
Meanwhile, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari brought in a sports psychologist to help the squad deal with the pressure.
That campaign, of course, ended with their 7-1 capitulation against Germany in the semi-finals, and in Russia it is vital current coach Tite keeps a lid on emotions as Brazil seek to atone for the disaster of 2014.
Their performance in qualifying ensured that they came to Russia among the favourites, but they have not yet completely convinced and are still not certain of reaching the knockout phase going into Wednesday’s game against Serbia. “Everything we did in qualifying and in our friendlies created a lot of expectation.
That weighed on us, and there was an obligation to win our opening game,” admitted the full-back Fagner.
But while the squad can be excused for feeling some pressure, not everyone back home has been sympathetic towards Neymar for his tears and his perceived play-acting in the Costa Rica game. -AFP