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Brazil seeks to take pressure off Neymar for friendly with Japan

Brasil busca quitar presión a Neymar para amistoso con Japón

Brazil coach Tite has had the full four-year cycle to prepare for this year’s World Cup in Qatar, unlike 2018 in Russia, when he took over mid-cycle following the sacking of Dunga.

After beating South Korea 5-1 in Seoul on Thursday, Brazil faces Japan in a friendly match in Tokyo on Monday. Brazil has not lost since losing 1-0 to Argentina in the Copa América final almost a year ago.

Playing in Japan could bode well.

Brazil’s U23 team won Olympic gold last year in Tokyo and Brazil’s last World Cup title came in 2002 in nearby Yokohama, in a World Cup co-hosted by Japan and South Korea.

“In a period of four years you can do a better job,” Tite said Sunday, speaking at Japan’s new National Stadium, the site of the Tokyo Olympics that were delayed a year by the coronavirus pandemic. “In that period you can see a lot of mistakes, but a lot of good things. You see a lot of players. And now we’re looking at a new generation in terms of offense.”

Neymar scored two penalties against South Korea, but is no longer the complete linchpin of the attack. Three English Premier League players – Richarlison, Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus – also scored in Seoul.

Added to that mix are other threats such as Raphinha, Lucas Paquetá and Vinicius Junior.

“As for the partnership with Neymar, there are others who share the responsibility,” added assistant coach César Sampaio, who scored three goals in the 1998 World Cup. “It’s not just relying on Neymar in the attacking half. We have other creative players with speed.”

The draw for the World Cup sent Japan into what is probably the most difficult group, with Spain and Germany. It seems like a long shot to reach the round of 16 in Qatar.

For its part, Brazil already appears as the first favorite with the defending champion France. Brazil will be favorites in a group in Qatar that also includes Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon.

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