World Cup 2018: 6 days to go

Brazil yet to find right mix, says Pele

Brazil do not yet have the right blend for success, Selecao legend Pele said.
Brazil do not yet have the right blend for success, Selecao legend Pele said. PHOTO: AFP

But legend gives thumbs up to coach Tite and sees Neymar as inspiration towards the title

SAO PAULO • Brazil may be joint favourites alongside Germany to win the World Cup in Russia this year, but the South Americans do not yet have the right blend for success, Selecao legend Pele said on Wednesday.

The South American giants have lost just once in 20 games since coach Tite took over almost two years ago even though he has been forced to chop and change his side in recent friendlies due to injuries.

Pele believes Tite is the right man to lead the national team in Russia despite not having a settled line-up.

"I have the utmost confidence in Tite's ability," Brazil's record goalscorer with 77 goals in 92 appearances told Reuters.

"My worry is about one thing: There are only a few days until the World Cup starts and we still don't have the right team. Individually, all the players are very good. But we're not a team."

Talismanic forward Neymar is short of match fitness, having undergone foot surgery in February, and right-back Dani Alves was forced to withdraw from the 23-man squad after suffering a knee injury.

ONE MAN DOESN'T MAKE A TEAM

He is more mature today and has more experience, but he isn't going to win the World Cup on his own. It's teams that win the World Cup.

PELE, on the entire Brazil team needing to play well and not be overly dependent on their talisman Neymar.

To add to Tite's worries, midfielders Renato Augusto and Douglas Costa also picked up strains that kept them out of Sunday's 2-0 win over Croatia.

But Pele feels that in Neymar, who returned after half-time in that friendly, Brazil have a player capable of inspiring his team-mates to the ultimate prize.

"Neymar is, to me, one of the best players in the world," the only player to have won the World Cup three times said.

"He is more mature today and has more experience, but he isn't going to win the World Cup on his own. It's teams that win the World Cup.

"The greatest Brazil team of all-time was the one in 1970, with Tostao, Rivellino, Gerson and Pele all wearing the No. 10 shirts for their clubs. At the 1970 World Cup, we spent more than six months together. That's why it worked."

Brazil face one final warm-up match on Sunday against Austria in Vienna before they kick off their World Cup Group E campaign against Switzerland on June 17.

Elsewhere, former international Rivaldo has tipped Fred, who is in the squad, to succeed at Old Trafford if patience is afforded to him.

Manchester United earlier in the week confirmed they had reached an agreement with Shakhtar Donetsk to sign the midfielder for £52 million (S$93 million).

And Rivaldo reckons his compatriot, who has made eight appearances for the Selecao, could be the missing piece of United's jigsaw.

"He (Fred) is a wonderful player," the former Barcelona midfielder and 2002 World Cup winner, told reporters. "Like any other player when you move to a new country, he will need a bit of time to adapt.

"But when you are a brilliant player like he is, he is going to do well for United."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2018, with the headline 'Brazil yet to find right mix, says Pele'. Print Edition | Subscribe