Brazil head coach Tite has defended Neymar’s performance despite admitting that he has not been at his best.
Neymar was widely criticised for his theatrical reaction when he claimed that Mexico’s Miguel Layun stood on his ankle in Brazil’s 2-0 last-16 victory, but Tite previously said he supported Neymar’s view of the incident. He reiterated his stance in blunt terms ahead of Brazil’s quarter-final against Belgium and sung Neymar’s praises for the less-talked-about qualities he brings to the Selecao.
“I’ve already spoken about Neymar and I’ve been very specific about it, about what happened,” Tite told reporters ahead of Friday’s clash. “You should look at the videos, all you have to do is look at images.
“What makes me happy is not him at his best – less than that. [He is] not just dribbling, there are actions, defensive transitions. If you look, you see how much he’s been participating collectively, taking up the ball, taking up space. Sometimes in counters, I don’t always want them to counter like that, but there’s teamwork.”
Neymar won his race to be fit in time to make Tite’s final squad for Russia after suffering a fractured metatarsal while playing for French champions Paris Saint-Germain in February, and he has scored two of Brazil’s seven goals at the tournament so far.