Football - Panic on the streets of Rio? Brazil getting nervous

After another disappointing performance, the Brazil camp are desperately trying not to panic at their World Cup.

Football - Panic on the streets of Rio? Brazil getting nervous

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Brazil's forward Neymar against Mexico.


After Brazil failed to beat Mexico on Tuesday night, delivering their second lacklustre performance of the competition so far, the prevailing message from the Selecao camp seems to be ‘don’t panic.’

“We wanted the victory, obviously, but you have to respect your opponents and Mexico are a very good side,” said Luis Felipe Scolari after the match, in which Brazil struggled to break down the Mexican defence, featuring a Gordon Banksian performance from goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, which striker Fred said contained "at least four miracles."

"What we made clear in the locker room is that the important thing is to win and the second is not to lose," winger Bernard told Brazilian newspaper O Globo. "We went into the game knowing that a draw would not be a bad result."

But Bernard felt that at times Brazil were not as confident on the ball as they could have been.

"I think these are situations [of nervousness in exchanging passes] that happen sometimes. We have the ability to be more quiet with the ball. It has been like that in the (Confederations Cup). We found the pass but lacked the finishing touch."

Brazil face Cameroon in their final group game, and could be in the position of needing a win to guarantee qualification for the second round.

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While of course this Brazil side does not stack up against some of the great teams of the past, this particular version is nowhere near as bad as they appear at present. With the likes of Neymar, Oscar, Thiago Silva and Dani Alves in their ranks, and all organised by World Cup-winner Scolari, this is a side that should be able to at least compete with the best in the world, even without home advantage. But is that home ‘advantage’ actually hindering Brazil? This is not a bad side, but more a nervous-looking one – they seem absolutely terrified, their play stymied by the pressure and nerves of trying to win the tournament and exorcise the ghosts of 1950. The excess of emotion in Brazil seems to he hampering their players rather than helping them, as can be seen by Neymar breaking down during the national anthem on Tuesday. More important than the issue of who to play up front or whether Paulinho and Luiz Gustavo are really a world class central midfield pairing, is how to calm the players down. Scolari’s greatest challenge is to try and create an atmosphere in the Brazil camp that relieves as much pressure from his team as possible, a task that may prove even beyond Felipao.

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Even with this pressure, it is difficult to see Brazil not beating Cameroon in their final group game. Volker Finke’s side are comfortably the worst in the group, and were lucky to escape with only a 1-0 defeat to Mexico, so the unthinkable notion of Brazil not making the knockout stages at their own World Cup seems remote, but it’s after that where Brazil’s problems may start. They will face whoever progresses from Group B in the next round, meaning a tough test against the Netherlands, Spain or Chile (assuming Australia don’t produce the mother of all shocks). That’s when the pressure could really tell for Scolari’s men.


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