Football

Thiago: We cried, but we can handle the pressure

Brazil captain Thiago Silva defends team's tears

QUARTER-FINAL

BRAZIL v COLOMBIA

(Tomorrow, 4am, SingTel mio TV Ch 141 & StarHub TV Ch 223)

Brazil captain Thiago Silva insisted this morning that his teammates are mentally tough enough to cope with World Cup pressure, after criticism of the squad's tears during the last-16 win over Chile.

"I think we are good psychologically. We are doing what we love to do," the Paris Saint-Germain defender said.

"There was a lot of pressure to win that match, so we know we had to give all we had, but when you do things with a lot of will and desire, there is no way to not be emotional."

Amid complaints that there have been too many public tears, the squad held a session with the team sports psychologist this week to prepare for their quarter-final clash with Colombia tomorrow morning (Singapore time) in Fortaleza.

Silva, with coach Luiz Felipe Scolari sat next to him, dismissed criticism of his leadership.

"When those things are said, we have to look away. The leader is beside me, he is the commander and backs me, so I don't care what people from the outside say.

NATURAL

"I just need to think about my job. This is the way I am, I am very emotional and this a very natural thing. This doesn't affect me at any time on the pitch.

"I don't think the emotion makes anything more difficult. I have overcome difficult moments. I had tuberculosis and had my life at risk, but I am a champion on and off the pitch and I show maturity and respect."

The 29-year-old was referring to a 24-week stay in hospital nine years ago due to a lung ailment. After that, it took a year of recuperation before he played football again.

Brazil's 1970 World Cup-winning captain Carlos Alberto triggered debate by accusing the Selecao of crying too easily.

"The team are crying when they're singing the anthem, when they get hurt, when they shoot penalties! Come on... Stop crying! Enough!" he said.

Scolari defended his players' response to last Saturday's triumph, recalling a time during his stint in charge of Portugal when former World Player of the Year Luis Figo prayed in the dressing room as his side beat England on penalties.

"Everyone responds in a different way," he said. "We have to respect these individualities because it is not these things but the attitudes on the pitch that help the team."

Scolari insists that Brazil will win the World Cup, despite a less-than-stellar four games from his side so far.

"There are seven steps and we are going onto the fifth. All those statements were fantastic, it shouldn't be any different.

"Our supporters don't expect any different. They want us to show them how we are going to win it."

Colombia come into the game having won all four of their games, thanks mainly to five goals from the tournament's top scorer James Rodriguez.

Scolari insisted he had no plans to man-mark the Monaco playmaker, but admitted he could change his formation as Luiz Gustavo is suspended.

BENEFIT

Scolari believes Colombia's more offensive style can benefit Brazil's flair players after 120 minutes of battle against Chile.

"Colombia are a more technical team than Chile," said Scolari.

"Chile have more strength and play with a spirit which makes the game dynamics very different. The rivalry with Colombia is not the same as with Chile, Argentina or Uruguay.

"It was much more difficult against Chile. Colombia are also a great team with some great players, but when we don't have these rivalries, our players feel more at ease."

Silva vowed to make amends to the fans in Fortaleza, having been held to a goalless draw there by Mexico in the group stages.

"Colombia have a similar team to ours, we are two teams that like to play technical football," he added.

"These are two teams with a lot of quality and the ones who benefit from that is the supporters. We want to reward the supporters with goals, given we didn't manage to score here in the last match." 
- AFP.


A team which is well-positioned at the back with Cristian Zapata, a defender who has played with me at Milan, and another whom I like very much, Mario Yepes. They have a very good, compact defence.

— Brazil captain Thiago Silva on Colombia

It was much more difficult against Chile. Colombia are also a great team with some great players, but when we don’t have these rivalries, our players feel more at ease.

— Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari

To nullify Neymar, the whole team need to help each other out in marking him... We need to stay united and not lose our focus. We know that when we play as a team, we get results.

— Colombia defender Pablo Armero

World Cup