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Scolari anxious ahead of Chile clash

27 Jun 2014 19:02:13

Scolari anxious ahead of Chile clash

Brazil are feeling anxious as they head into Saturday's last 16 World Cup clash against Chile in Belo Horizonte, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari admitted.

"It is understandable that one should feel uncomfortable and anxious, especially when you get to the knockout stage. We can't afford to make a mistake," Scolari told his eve-of-game press conference at the Mineirao Stadium.

"There is a bit more anxiety, more nerves. But that is normal in any competition, not just because we are in Brazil. When I am on my own and I start to think, I do get a bit nervous."

Captain Thiago Silva echoed Scolari's comments, confirming that the pressure got to him, in Brazil's opening 3-1 victory against Croatia in particular.

"It is impossible to switch off. Even a year before the tournament I was thinking about the World Cup. It is special for all of us, because it is happening here in Brazil," said the 29-year-old.

"We have to control our anxiety as much as possible. In the first game I wasn't myself. I wondered if I had forgotten how to play."

However, Scolari, who has no shortage of experience of the latter stages of major international tournaments, insisted that the Selecao are coping with the huge weight of expectation and that their confidence was helped by Monday's 4-1 win against Cameroon.

"We had to play for our place in this round against Cameroon. These are the rules -- if we don't win, we will go out. We will run these risks all the way to the final," he added.

"We will not be at all proud if we get knocked out, but the mood is one of happiness and dedication as we go about our work."

Scolari and his players have seen their performances constantly compared with last year's triumphant Confederations Cup campaign, but he said that Brazil were now at "80 percent" of the level of 12 months ago.

- David Luiz fitness doubt -

Now they must try to maintain their perfect World Cup record in meetings with their South American rivals, having beaten Chile three times at the competition, including a 3-0 success in the last 16 in South Africa four years ago.

"This Chile is the team of 2014. They are different," Scolari warned. "The statistics are there to be manipulated. They don't interest us.

"I think that since the arrival of (coach Jorge) Sampaoli they have a new dynamic. They are performing better and their players have adapted perfectly to his way of playing. Since the beginning they have performed at a higher level."

Scolari said he would not make a decision on his line-up for the game until after Friday's training session, which was held at a separate venue to the Mineirao in order to protect the pitch for the game.

Fernandinho could come into the midfield at the expense of Paulinho while centre-back David Luiz has been nursing a back strain suffered in training on Thursday and must be considered a doubt.

The Paris Saint-Germain player was missing from the field during the final 15 minutes of Friday's session that were open to the media.

The CBF confirmed that "David Luiz participated in the first part of this Friday's training session... and continues to undergo treatment."

Dante, of Bayern Munich, would be the most likely replacement to come in and partner Silva at the heart of the back four.


AFP

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