Tag of World Cup favourites won’t affect Brazil, says coach Tite

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Moscow, June 28 (IANS) Brazil coach Tite says he and his footballers will embrace the rising expectations placed on them as they prepare for the knockout stage of the World Cup in Russia.

The five-time world champions secured the top spot in Group E with a 2-0 victory over Serbia here on Wednesday. The result left Brazil with seven points from their three group matches, two points ahead of second-placed Switzerland, who also advanced to the round of 16. Serbia and Costa Rica were eliminated from Group E, reports Xinhua news agency.

“I like expectation. We embrace it,” Tite told a news conference after the match at Spartak Stadium. “There are expectations on us because we played so well in the qualifiers and friendlies. But the World Cup represents a new cycle. It’s a new format.

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“I want us to play at the level we showed before (the tournament) but the World Cup is a different kettle of fish. There has been expectation placed on us by others but I am focused on evolving and getting stronger.”

Brazil will now meet Mexico, who limped into the round of 16 after a 0-3 loss to Sweden earlier on Wednesday, in the southwestern city of Samara on July 2.

Bookmakers have installed Brazil as title favourites after Germany’s shock elimination, but Tite said he is unconcerned about what others think about his team.

“We don’t live off of expectations, we live off of reality,” he said. “It’s a team that’s growing strong in the competition mentally, taking the pressure with a good performance on the pitch. In football you have to have balance. I was not able to sleep sometimes, thinking about this type of chemistry and balance.”

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–IANS

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