Having secured a berth at the 2018 World Cup, Brazil coach Tite has welcomed the attention Neymar receives from opponents, claiming it creates opportunities for other players to score.
The Selecao defeated Paraguay 3-0 in Sao Paulo on Tuesday, a result which, combined with Peru’s 2-1 win over Uruguay, guaranteed the five-time champions a place at next year’s finals in Russia.
After missing a penalty, Neymar netted the second at Arena Corinthians, Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho having opened the scoring and Marcelo supplying a late settler.
Speaking to the media after the match, the coach, who was appointed to replace Dunga in June, highlighted the role Barcelona striker Neymar plays in freeing up space for team-mates.
“The collective empowers the individual,” he said.
“If the ball arrives to Neymar, they mark [him], but the other side is more exposed. Coutinho creates chances. Enter Fagner, enter Paulinho. We take Neymar to one side, let him be isolated and make room for another. If they mark two, somewhere there are going to be people free.
“[We have to] find these alternative areas.”
— CBF Futebol (@CBF_Futebol) March 29, 2017
Brazil have struggled to live up to expectations on the big stage since their triumph at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea, going out in the quarter-finals in 2006 and 2010, before suffering the humiliation of a 7-1 defeat to eventual winners Germany in the semi-finals on home soil in 2014.
Asked if this squad is capable of improving on the near misses suffered by their recent predecessors, Tite replied: “First, I understand your question, but I cannot make comparisons with previous situations.
“These are stages and moments that each [group] lived. Football is a series of important steps.
“If the team is growing and consolidating, let it keep improving… I will monitor each step so that it is solid, demanding.
“Every game, every training session, we will seek consolidation and evolution.”