The 2014 World Cup was a frustrating one for Brazil. The Seleção have made impressive progress under national coach Tite, who has been in office since 2016, and were impressive in qualification for the World Cup. The 56-year-old coach spoke confidently in his interview with DFB.de ahead of his country’s friendly against world champions Germany on Tuesday (KO 20:45 CEST).
DFB.de: Tite, there are just less than three months until the World Cup kicks off. Brazil will face Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia in the group stage. At first glimpse, it seems a doable task. Do you think it’ll that easy?
Tite: I think the fact that the draw was based on FIFA rankings means that the groups are a lot more balanced overall and that goes for our group as well. If Russia weren’t hosting the tournament, Switzerland would have been in pot one, so there’s a game between two of the best-ranked teams in the world. It’ll be a real challenge because I’m certain that the Switzerland team is overflowing with quality. Serbia, like all countries from the former Yugoslavia, have an excellent team and Costa Rica showed in the last World Cup just how capable they are. They beat Uruguay and Italy, drew against England, knocked Greece out in the quarter-finals and then finally lost to the Netherlands in a penalty shoot-out. We have to approach these games and challenges as a team to perform as well as we can.
DFB.de: You were excellent in the qualifiers and secured your ticket to Russia early on. Are you now expecting a sixth World Cup title from your country and team?
Tite: Are Brazil one of the favourites? Yes, we are! It’s partly down to the history of the Seleção, but not just that. When I look at how the current team have performed recently, they deserve to be one of the favourites. But there are a lot of favourites at this tournament; there hasn’t been such an even World Cup for a long time – I’m sure of that.
DFB.de: You’ve held your current post for almost two years. A few months ago, Real Madrid star Marcelo said: “We have to thank Tite for everything, because he’s changed so much.” Do you know exactly what he meant by that?
Tite: I don’t want to talk about how my predecessor performed, that’s not my job. I can’t speak about what I’ve changed, I can only talk about my work. Right at the start of my job here I started talking to previous coaches; that was important for me. I spoke with Mario Zagallo, Carlos Alberto Parreira and Vanderlei Luxemburgo. I use what I learned from those conversations and they influence my work here. We let players play in the positions they’re used to and feel most comfortable in. I always remain in contact with them between games. I have an incredibly talented coaching team who collect a huge amount of data on players which we can work with.
DFB.de: It seems as though Brazil have rediscovered their form from the past since you’ve come in: a more fun style, more adventurous, more typically Brazilian than in previous years. Do you agree?
Tite: That’s certainly our aim. But we have to bring that together with modern football, so that means combining Brazilian flair with good organisation, which is what we need to win. We want to be strong in defence, build up well and give our forwards as much freedom as possible in the final third. It’s the one-on-one situations in which the Brazilian players really stand out.
DFB.de: Neymar, your most prominent player, will miss the game in Berlin with an injury. His record-breaking transfer to Paris Saint-Germain last summer was a hot topic around the world and every fan had an opinion on it. How does he deal with it and how important is he for your team?
Tite: For starters, he’s an exceptional player in two ways. I think he made the most assists in last year’s Champions League. He scores goals and he also creates them. And you can’t forget that often beats two opponents. That means that he’s heavily marked, which creates space for his teammates. He’s also a genuine, normal person and a really nice guy, which I think is really important.
DFB.de: How much does the 7-1 loss in the 2014 semi-final play on your minds?
Tite: Sure, we knew this would come up as it’s the first game since that day. We have to come to terms with it and move on as there’s nothing we can do about it. Brazil are a team with a history of footballing success but there have been some setbacks too and this is one of them. We’re here to prepare for the World Cup this summer, just like Germany. We want to write a new chapter in our history. It’s a new start, a new situation and a new team.
DFB.de: Is the fact that you couldn’t manage the title in 2014 in your homeland reason for further motivation this summer?
Tite: We want to put in good performances and do our country proud. 2014 has no bearing on that. Our motivation comes from within. Being part of the Brazilian national team for a World Cup is an honour and a privilege. It’ll be the peak of my career and that’s enough motivation for me.
DFB.de: What do you think of the Germany team?
Tite: They’re a great side! They have a good mix of youth and experience. Their head coach, Joachim Löw, has been developing his side of over a number of years. He’s done a great job. They won the 2014 World Cup, came second at the 2016 Olympics and won the 2017 Confederations Cup. That demonstrates their quality.