Scolari urges Brazil to cut out mistakes
‘It’s knockout, our errors give chances away and maybe we won’t be as lucky next time’
Brazil captain Thiago Silva after the second round win over Chile at the Mineirao Stadium. Photograph: Peter Powell / EPA
Chile players after being defeated by Brazil in a penalty shootout during the 2014 Fifa World Cup second round match at Mineirao Stadium. Photograph: Buda Mendes/Getty Images
There was much talk of cardiac arrest from the Brazilians after this more nerve-racking of second round victories and there must have times alright when the hearts of a nation skipped a beat or two.
In the end, though, the hosts made it through and their coach Felipe Scolari said they were now past the halfway mark on the journey to the Promised Land.
“There’s anxiety on our side but we just overcome the difficulties,” he said. “This is the fourth step and there are three more before we reach heaven.”
Scolari admitted that the team “must continue to improve as each match is tougher than the last,” and, he acknowledged, the hosts were lucky here late on not to be punished for failing to take their chances when Mauricio Pinilla pounded the crossbar with a shot that might well have won his side the game in the last minute of extra time.
Ultimately, he said, the team will be better for the experience of nearly going out when they get to back into action next week.
“The team is new and even the most experienced players feel the pressure in a World Cup, ” he said. “If you say you don’t you’re lying. The emotions are different, it’s not a normal match and we have so many new players but little by little they gain experience.
“Willian went to take a penalty because he’s good at them and he missed but he’ll take that with him into the next game. We gain experience as we go but let’s see if we can make less mistakes. It’s knockout, our errors give chances away and maybe we won’t be as lucky next time as we were when they hit the crossbar.”
A penalty by Gonzalo Jara that came crashing off the inside of the right-hand post decided the contest in favour of the hosts in the end but it was Neymar’s coolly struck effort moments earlier that had steadied nerves just as Brazil seemed as though they might be losing theirs.
“Neymar is 22 but he . . . has been ready since he was 17 or 18. He takes a penalty as if he were playing with friends and forgets it’s a penalty shootout in the World Cup. ”
Julio Cesar, who was clearly overwhelmed by the emotion of it all before the shoot-out started, knew precisely what was at stake having taken much of the blame for Brazil’s failure to win the title in South Africa four years ago. This felt like redemption to him, he admitted.
“After a World Cup, being labelled as the villain, that’s very hard, I needed to find my psychological balance,” said the goalkeeper who many had argued should have been left out of the squad this time but who contributed enough here to be named Man of the Match. “But after what happened in 2010, I saw how many people were cheering for me and hoping for me as an individual and how many people want me to win the World Cup because of what happened then. I’d like to use this moment to thank each and every one of them for giving me strength.”
Chile boss Jorge Sampaoli and his players will need a bit of that to get through the coming days for it is bound to haunt them just how close they came to a first ever win over Brazil on their rivals’ soil.
“The near miss at the end has been really hard for us,” he admitted, “it would have been an historic moment for Chile and we were convinced we could go to the next round so of course I’m sad.
“But we are proud too. My team played very hard and penalties are something you always train for but when you’re on the field the situation is completely differently. We didn’t think it would go to penalties.”
They didn’t quite make history, he admitted “but the players represented the country in a beautiful way.”