RIO DE JANEIRO – Insisting that Spain should not be seen as favourites, Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari on Saturday insisted his side have what it takes to beat the world champions in Sunday’s Confederations Cup final showdown in Rio.
“I don’t consider Spain the favourites. In the last six years they have imposed themselves and won so many titles fielding virtually the same team and so that can maybe be an advantage.
“But we have something important in Brazil – which is that we have established credibility with our fans” by reaching the final, Scolari told a press conference at the Maracana stadium, where he expects that the fans will help pull their side over the victory line.
“We have been dreaming since the start of getting to the final and winning it,” said Scolari
Asked if his team had managed to answer their many domestic critics, including Pele, who said before the tournament that the current Brazil squad is not good enough to beat the best, Scolari said he believed by and large they had.
“I believe our national team environment has improved a lot from before we got together prior to the event. It is not easy to be together for 30 days.”
Much has been made of how the Spanish are the team who have swept all before them in uniquely winning the past three major touraments in which they have competed – a World Cup and two European Championships.
But Scolari, who noted June 30, the date of the final, marks the aniversary of his Brazil’s 2002 World Cup triumph, vowed his side would impose their own style, a more compact and disciplined version of some Brazilian teams past.
That is not music to the ears of all Brazilians – but Scolari says he will impose his way of doing things regardless.
“Some like it, others don’t, but I am going to make the team play the same manner and make sure our opponents go up against a strong team.
“We need to play in the way that we have been doing in this tournament and the (pre-tournament friendlies) against England and France,” he told reporters.
Pre-tournament form was not overly impressive yet a 3-0 win over France just beforehand gave confidence a major boost and Japan, Mexico, Italy and Uruguay have all been duly sent packing since.
Scolari has said all along that this event is just a means to the end of lifting next year’s World Cup, which returns to the land of the five-time champions for the first time since 1950.
The veteran coach says after Sunday he will use the intervening 12 months to obtain “a final idea of what is missing and how to improve” but for now his stated aim is wants “to give Brazliian people a moment of glory and happiness.”
Seeking to answer his critics, Scolari has said several times in recent days that there is little point in playing the beautiful game the traditional Brazilian way if they do not garner success.
He accepted that “Spain have been playing beautiful stuff and winning” since Euro 2008, but Brazil had often succumbed to the temptation of “playing nicely but not winning.”
Asked if the 2002 team he led to glory in Tokyo was a yardstick for him, he rejected the idea.
“We are talking about different eras. The 2002 team played beautiful football.
“But the past is gone and you have to live in the moment.”
And if they can triumph Sunday, Scolari said that “we will send a clear message that we are on the right path to go for the (World Cup) title in 2014 and be in the mix along several other teams.”