AP interview: Brazil coach Tite will stick to attack at WCup

Oct 6, 2022, 3:14 AM | Updated: 3:17 pm
Brazil's national soccer coach Adenor Leonardo Bachi, also known as Tite, poses for a portrait afte...

Brazil's national soccer coach Adenor Leonardo Bachi, also known as Tite, poses for a portrait after an interview in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

(AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

              Brazil's national soccer coach Adenor Leonardo Bachi, also known as Tite, gives an interview in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)
            
              Brazil's national soccer coach Adenor Leonardo Bachi, also known as Tite, center, assistant coaches Cesar Sampaio, left, and Cleber Xavier give an interview in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)
            
              Brazil's national soccer coach Adenor Leonardo Bachi, also known as Tite, gives an interview in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)
            
              Brazil's national soccer coach Adenor Leonardo Bachi, also known as Tite, poses for a portrait after an interview in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil coach Tite has so many attacking options for the World Cup that he can hardly fit half of them into his team.

He promises to use as many of his forwards as he can in Qatar, though, no matter the opponent.

“There will be opportunities for all (Brazil’s forwards),” Tite said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Whoever is in will be deciding the match, all have to be prepared. Every match might require a different characteristic.”

Tite and his coaching assistants Cleber Xavier and Cesar Sampaio spoke to the AP for about one hour at the headquarters of the Brazilian soccer confederation on Thursday, taking a break from their heated private discussions about how to put the final touches on their squad for the tournament. Their final team announcement is scheduled for Nov. 7.

The only Brazil forward who may be sure of a starting place in Qatar is Neymar, while the list of Tite’s other options includes the likes of Vinicius Jr., Raphinha, Richarlison, Antony and Gabriel Jesus.

In the team’s most recent games, two friendly wins over African teams Ghana and Tunisia in September, Tite fielded lineups that were so attack-minded that critics back home wondered if that would be a realistic strategy against some of the other title contenders at the World Cup, which starts next month.

Tite, who is leaving his job after the tournament, insisted he won’t shy away from his aggressive playing style in Qatar, regardless of who Brazil is playing. Brazil is in Group G at the World Cup with Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon.

“We will make adjustments, we will not change our game plan,” Tite said. “We will impose our way of playing.”

The Selecao may need plenty of goals in Qatar as Tite doesn’t have nearly as many options in defense. Brazil has few top-class full-backs at the moment, while starting center back Thiago Silva is 38 years old. Defensive midfielder Casemiro also has yet to fully adjust to his new surroundings at Manchester United after leaving Real Madrid.

Tite doesn’t think his defense will be a problem, though, as long as his players do one thing.

“Play your best at your club,” said Tite, adding he doesn’t pay much attention to criticism his players receive. “We listen very little to any noise coming from outside. What is outside remains outside.”

Neymar, like Argentina’s Lionel Messi, is facing huge pressure to deliver his first World Cup title — especially after being criticized for sub-par performances at the 2018 tournament in Russia.

Tite thinks the 30-year-old Neymar has matured both as a player and a person since then, and the striker has been in top form this season with Paris Saint-Germain.

“When Neymar says that at a given time he made a mistake it is beautiful. What an example. He is no superman, he is telling kids that at some moment they will also make mistakes, feel weak, have a stomachache, a headache. It is only human,” Tite said. “Some people know how to grow and evolve. And they are brave to say it when they make mistakes. That’s his maturity.”

The coach tried to shield his star player from the pressure by downplaying comparisons to Pelé, as Neymar approaches the Brazil great’s record of 77 goals for the national team.

“He must leave that noise for others to speak about. There is no comparison. It is unreal, inhuman to compare different generations,” Tite said. “You can’t compare Pelé to any other. We can argue about who was the second best.”

Tite’s assistant coaches have spent plenty of time over the last few years studying what the last three World Cup winners — France, Germany and Spain — did to prepare for the tournament. Many view Brazil and Argentina among the biggest favorites this time, as France is struggling with injuries while Germany and Spain are going through a rebuilding phase.

But Xavier said Brazil can’t worry too much about their rivals.

“We are spending most of our energy on our work, our process,” Xavier said. “We know Argentina has a somewhat finalized team, and Brazil too. We see England, France, Germany and Spain with some changes. We will only know for sure what those look like after the World Cup’s group stage.”

As the World Cup nears and reports pile up on his desk, Tite’s schedule is dominated by meetings with assistants while media requests come by the minute. The 61-year-old coach is doing his best to carry on without much anticipation, as if these were just normal working days.

“I only get anxious when people ask me how many days are still left for our first match,” Tite said. “That happens every day.”

____

AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) reacts after a score during the second half of the team's NBA b...
Associated Press

Hawks’ Trae Young, McMillan try to smooth over dispute

ATLANTA (AP) — Trae Young says he and Hawks coach Nate McMillan have smoothed over their disagreement regarding his not attending a game last Friday. Young, the team’s leading scorer, was out with a sore shoulder and did not attend the game the win over the Denver Nuggets. It is rare for an injured player […]
17 hours ago
TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) throws in the first half of the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA...
Associated Press

Bennett, Duggan, Stroud, Williams are Heisman finalists

Quarterbacks Stetson Bennett of Georgia, Max Duggan of TCU, C.J. Stroud of Ohio State and Caleb Williams of Southern California were announced as finalists for the Heisman Trophy on Monday night. The award given to the outstanding player in college football, determined by a vote of more than 900 sports journalists and past winners, will […]
17 hours ago
Philadelphia 76ers' Tobias Harris, left, Tyrese Maxey, center, and James Harden, right, look on fro...
Associated Press

Sixers’ Harden to return Monday against Rockets after injury

HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden will return Monday night for the Philadelphia 76ers against the Houston Rockets after missing 14 games with a foot injury. Harden, who spent just more than eight seasons with the Rockets before being traded to Brooklyn in January 2021, last played Nov. 2. He had a tendon strain in his […]
17 hours ago
Associated Press

Blake scores 20, Green Bay beats IUPUI 68-61

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Zae Blake scored 20 points to help Green Bay defeat IUPUI 68-61 on Monday. Blake added three steals for the Phoenix (1-7). Clarence Cummings III scored 16 points, going 6 of 13 from the floor, including 2 for 5 from distance, and 2 for 5 from the line. Garren Davis […]
17 hours ago
Ydamelys Moreno, right, watches as fellow female boxers train in Havana, Cuba, Monday, Dec. 5, 2022...
Associated Press

Boxing powerhouse Cuba lets women boxers compete

HAVANA (AP) — Legnis Cala Massó carefully removes her necklace and smiles as her coach slides her bright red boxing gloves over her French tip nails. The 31-year-old swings her wiry body into the ring and pounds her fellow boxer – also a young woman – with a series of punches, just as she’s done […]
17 hours ago
Baltimore Ravens players celebrate a touchdown by Baltimore Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley (2) in...
Associated Press

Jackson’s injury a concern, but Ravens’ defense playing well

BALTIMORE (AP) — Thanks to Lamar Jackson’s injury and a surging Cincinnati team, the Baltimore Ravens suddenly have their work cut out for them if they want to win the AFC North. They did, however, take another step in that direction last weekend. The Ravens rallied late to edge the Broncos 10-9, and although Denver’s […]
17 hours ago
AP interview: Brazil coach Tite will stick to attack at WCup