Football

Tite pleased Brazil could cope without Neymar

Brazil coach Tite was pleased with his team's friendly wins over Russia and Germany in the last week without the injured star forward Neymar.

"Our best player was out,"he said, after they pipped a second-string Germany 1-0 in Berlin yesterday morning (Singapore time).

"The team missed Neymar, but we are learning to play and be strong without him. This all helps to generate team strength."

The 56-year-old also knows that yesterday's win, courtesy of a 37th-minute goal by Gabriel Jesus, will not fully erase memories of their 7-1 World Cup humiliation by Germany four years ago.

"It's true that there was a lingering ghost," he added. "I've felt that some people have even tried to avoid talking about it.

"That's life. It's in the past. But people won't forget about it just because we won."

World Cup holders Germany are now winless in their last four games after draws against England, France and Spain.

Germany coach Joachim Loew has identified certain areas that they need to improve on, after seeing their 22-match unbeaten run come to an end.

"We have lost the game, but we can live with it as we have four or five areas which we need to intensively work on," he said.

Loew had made seven changes to the team which started last Friday's 1-1 draw with Spain.

His first XI had only two World Cup winners - Toni Kroos and Jerome Boateng. Fringe players such as Schalke's 22-year-old midfielder Leon Goretzka were given a run.

Said Loew: "We made too many mistakes, which allowed Brazil to grow in strength and confidence.

"We had a few young players, who will learn from this, but in addition, the body language was not right from some players."

Kroos echoed the same sentiments, saying some players had blown their chance to impress.

"There were a few players who could have shown what they could do, but didn't - that's annoying," he said.

Boateng, who captained the team, twisted an ankle and had to come off in the second half, but Loew, who will announce his preliminary World Cup squad on May 15, didn't think it was a serious injury.

Germany are in Group F with Mexico, South Korea and Sweden, while Brazil will meet Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia in Group E. - REUTERS, AFP

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