Copa America 2019

Lottery fear haunts Tite

Brazil goalkeeper Alisson practising penalty saves during a training session in Porto Alegre on Wednesday. The Brazilians are keen to avoid a third loss on penalties to Paraguay when they meet in the quarter-finals of the Copa America. PHOTO: AGENCE
Brazil goalkeeper Alisson practising penalty saves during a training session in Porto Alegre on Wednesday. The Brazilians are keen to avoid a third loss on penalties to Paraguay when they meet in the quarter-finals of the Copa America. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Brazil coach readies for defensive Paraguay as team practise penalties to avoid third loss

PORTO ALEGRE • Brazil coach Tite admitted to fearing the injustice of a penalty shoot-out as the hosts prepare to face Paraguay in the Copa America quarter-finals.

The Selecao are haunted by the spectre, having twice been eliminated by La Albirroja in that manner at the same stage.

At Argentina 2011, they missed all four kicks as Paraguay won 2-0 and went on to reach the final before losing to Uruguay.

Four years later in Chile, Brazil succumbed 4-3, with Paraguay losing to Argentina in the semi-finals.

At a press conference ahead of this morning's (Singapore time) match, Tite revealed the lottery of penalties had haunted him throughout his professional career owing to its "unfair" nature.

He said: "I'll never feel calm in a shoot-out. I'll never change my mind on that. They personalise success or failure and that's not fair. I don't know how, but they should find another way."

While Brazil are leaving nothing to chance with assistant coach Cleber Xavier confirming the squad had practised penalties, the nation as a whole is paranoid at the prospect of Paraguay parking the bus at the bobbly Gremio Arena.

Tite, whose team will be missing Manchester City midfielder Fernandino through injury, is expecting their opponents to field a defensive-minded team with "two lines of four".

He added: "They're very aggressive, they score a lot so we have to work hard to be able to counter them.

"Fouls are part of the game, we must be aware of that. We have to play our game. If there are many fouls, that's part of the game and we will adapt to it."

The pitch is also of particular concern with the unseasonably hot temperatures in Porto Alegre making it difficult to play on.

But Barcelona midfielder Arthur is not going to use the poor playing conditions as an excuse as the pitch is "the same for both sides" and to do so would be "forgetting about the football".

He said: "I've not got much to say about the pitch. Our biggest focus is winning the game, doing what we do well and being very focused on the final result."

The eight-time Copa champions have lifted South American football's premier competition the four previous times that they were hosts.

Over at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Argentina are also steeling themselves for an equally resolute Venezuela side that will look to soak up the pressure before hitting them on the break.

La Albiceleste were far from convincing in the group phase, barely scraping into the quarter-finals and goalkeeper Franco Armani is aware of his team's need to "score goals to avoid a surprise".

  • Brazil's failed penalties by Elano, Thiago Silva, Andre Santos and Fred in the 2-0 shoot-out loss to Paraguay in the 2011 Copa America quarter-finals. The Selecao lost to the same team at the same stage in 2015.

Pinpointing West Brom striker Salomon Rondon, who spent last season on loan at Newcastle, as the Venezuelan danger man with his ability to "hold up the ball well", the River Plate player also warned his teammates not to turn over the ball in dangerous areas given opponents' pace.

However, he is confident that Argentina are on track to end their 26-year trophy drought, insisting that "match by match, we've gained confidence and the functionality the team need".

Recalling their last meeting in March which Venezuela won 3-1, Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Leandro Paredes, who has been one of the rare shining lights after playing in a more withdrawn role, said they "had learnt from that match".

He added: "We have to stay focused and try to keep the game under control.

"I'm working hard in every training session and every match to get better. I knew that when I changed position, I had to add new aspects to my game and, hopefully, I've done that."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, XINHUA


BRAZIL V PARAGUAY

StarHub Ch202, 8.15am

VENEZUELA V ARGENTINA

Ch202, tomorrow, 2.50am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2019, with the headline 'Lottery fear haunts Tite'. Print Edition | Subscribe