Give Neymar space: coach

Tite says team have to share burden after star runs gamut of emotions against Costa Rica

ST PETERSBURG • Brazil coach Tite warned his country not to heap too much responsibility on Neymar's slight shoulders after the forward was seen crying after their 2-0 World Cup win over Costa Rica on Friday.

Brazil scored twice in stoppage time to move top of Group E but Neymar, who got involved in discussions with the referee and was awarded a penalty that was rescinded by the VAR (video assistant referee), looked emotionally frail throughout, often gesticulating and falling down when tackled.

Tite said his tears could be down to the huge pressure of leading the five-time world champions.

"The joy, the satisfaction, and the pride of representing the Brazilian national team is a lot," Tite said. "He has the responsibility, the joy, the pressure and the courage to show it. We each show it in our own way."

Neymar posted on Instagram moments after Tite spoke.

"Not everyone knows what I went through to get here. Even parrots can talk, but walking the walk... not everyone does it," wrote the 26-year-old, who was sidelined between February and June with injury. "The tears were of joy, of overcoming difficulties, of commitment and will to win.

"Nothing in my life was ever easy and that's not going to change now. The dream continues, no not the dream, the OBJECTIVE."

NO PAIN, NO GAIN

I think you have to let it out, a great weight was lifted off our shoulders. I told (Neymar) that (crying) is good. Cry as much as you want.

THIAGO SILVA, Brazil's captain against Costa Rica, on the team's relief after they scored twice in added time for a 2-0 win.

Neymar's tears brought back memories of four years ago on home ground, when captain Thiago Silva sobbed uncontrollably ahead of a penalty shootout against Chile in their last-16 clash.

Brazil were questioned then for their psychological readiness - the players looked seriously freaked out by Neymar's absence ahead of their 7-1 capitulation to Germany in the semi-final - and the same concerns have resurfaced.

"I think you have to let it out, a great weight was lifted off our shoulders," Silva told Globo's website. "I told (Neymar) that (crying) is good. Cry as much as you want."

Brazil's oscillating emotions were also laid bare in other comments made by Silva.

A team-mate of Neymar's at Paris Saint-Germain, he said he was upset at his friend for swearing at him for returning the ball to the Costa Ricans in a show of fair play.

The tempestuous forward was, in addition, caught several times on camera swearing at the referee in Portuguese.

How much an emotional victory proves to be a launch pad rather than a false dawn remains to be seen as the pre-tournament favourites made heavy work of a Costa Rica side who have now lost their past four games.

Much will depend on how quickly Neymar gets back up to speed. This was just his fourth appearance since breaking a bone in his foot against Marseille in February and only the second time he had completed the full 90 minutes.

"He is a human being, he needs time to reach his high standards again but before that, there is a team that needs to be strong and not dependent on him," added Tite. "Is he going to be back to his best? Yes, he is going to be back to his best."

Brazil's next game is against Serbia on Wednesday. They are in pole position at the top of the group with four points, ahead of Switzerland on goal difference.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 24, 2018, with the headline 'Give Neymar space: coach'. Print Edition | Subscribe