Poor finishing and nerves cost us: Tite

Steven Zuber outleaping Miranda (unsighted) to head home Switzerland's equaliser against Brazil, who felt that Zuber had pushed their player.
Steven Zuber outleaping Miranda (unsighted) to head home Switzerland's equaliser against Brazil, who felt that Zuber had pushed their player.PHOTO: REUTERS

Brazil coach demands improvement as Swiss disrupt Selecao's rhythm with smart fouls

ROSTOV (Russia) • Coach Tite blamed first-night nerves after Brazil's bid for a sixth World Cup got off to a rocky start as Switzerland withstood an early onslaught to snatch a 1-1 draw in Rostov-on-Don on Sunday.

Brazil's tag as pre-tournament favourites looked justified in a dominant first half capped by Philippe Coutinho's wonder strike to open the scoring. However, the Brazilians paid for their failure to kill the game off when Steven Zuber powered home an equaliser from Xherdan Shaqiri's corner five minutes after the break.

Brazil were unhappy that Zuber was not penalised for a slight push on Miranda and felt hard done by again when Gabriel Jesus tumbled under a challenge from Manuel Akanji inside the area with Mexican referee Cesar Ramos unmoved.

But they have to accept that the pressure will be on them to kickstart their campaign when they face Costa Rica on Friday.

"I'm not happy with this result. Our finishing wasn't good. We had 20 chances, but too many shots were off target (14). We should have made their 'keeper work harder than that," Tite said.

"I put it down to stress, first-match nerves, that's true for me too."

In 10 meetings against Costa Rica, Brazil have lost just once - 58 years ago. But their last two matches in 2015 and 2011 were narrow 1-0 victories.

  • 14

    Shots out of 20 Brazil fired off target against Switzerland.

If Brazil top Group E and holders Germany finish second in Group F following their shock 1-0 defeat by Mexico, the two sides would meet in the last 16.

That would be a repeat of the 2014 semi-final clash where Joachim Low's men embarrassed Brazil 7-1 in their backyard.

But Coutinho is not looking beyond Group E.

"The most important thing is just to qualify," said the Barcelona playmaker. "We have two more games where we will have to see what we need to improve in order to win.

"All of the teams work hard to be well set up to be here, so it's difficult until the end."

Switzerland restricted Jesus to no shots on target and no chances created, while they paid close attention to Neymar, constantly fouling him and disrupting Brazil's rhythm.

Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic believes his team deserve more recognition after becoming just the second team in 36 World Cup games to prevent Brazil from winning after the Selecao led at the interval.

"I hope they start looking up and taking notice of us and taking us seriously," said Petkovic, whose side held Spain to the same score in a warm-up friendly.

"Playing against Brazil and Spain, we demonstrated we could react, that this team always believe in ourselves and can get results. We will continue to play with this consistency."

Switzerland next face Group E leaders Serbia.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 19, 2018, with the headline 'Poor finishing and nerves cost us: TITE'. Print Edition | Subscribe