Scolari upbeat despite Brazil's lackluster display

Updated: 2013-03-27 07:43

By Agence France-Presse in London (China Daily)

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 Scolari upbeat despite Brazil's lackluster display

Neymar (right) of Brazil is sent flying after a tackle from Aleksandr Kokorin of Russia during their friendly match at Stamford Bridge in London on Monday. The two drew, 1-1. Andrew Winning / Reuters

Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari insists his side is showing signs of improvement despite its lackluster display in a 1-1 draw against Russia at Stamford Bridge.

Scolari's side was given a fright against Fabio Capello's Russia, which took the lead in Monday's friendly through Victor Fayzulin's 73rd-minute strike.

Fluminense forward Fred equalized in the 90th minute to spare the blushes of the 2014 World Cup host when he tapped home Marcelo's cross from close range.

Scolari is still searching for the first win of his second spell as Brazil boss, but the former Chelsea coach is confident his team is heading in the right direction.

"I think that from the game against Italy (which it drew 2-2 last Thursday) to this game we kept the same level, but we were playing against a team that were well organized," Scolari said.

"Of the 54 countries trying to qualify for the World Cup, Russia are the only one to have not conceded.

"They kept the ball well and we maybe let that goal in because the team marked high up the pitch and closed the gaps so much more. In football it's not necessarily the best team that always wins.

"What I really liked is that towards the end, our team had a good reaction and didn't get desperate. They kept their heads and played the ball because they knew they would have chances. I believe we are on the right path.

"Everyone knows there are no short cuts for success and you need to win in stages. In each stage we try to improve and that is the only way to success - that is what we are doing now."

Brazil is without a win in its past five, and last week it threw away a 2-0 lead against Italy, eventually drawing 2-2.

But Scolari is happy with the progress of his side.

Scolari upbeat despite Brazil's lackluster display

"We need to continue to work with the group. The Brazilian fans can be sure they will have a very good group they will be happy with in the World Cup," he said.

Meanwhile, Capello was delighted with the never-say-die spirit his side showed, despite feeling his team was distracted by two pitch invasions.

With Russia currently top of its World Cup qualifying Group F by four points, it is well on course to join host Brazil in South America next year.

"I thought the team played well and were compact. But the most important thing was the team spirit," Capello said.

"This is important if you want to go forward - all my players were on form.

"When you play against top teams like Brazil you always learn a lot and you know the value of the team and players. This is the most important thing for a manager.

"Friendlies are important because I want to know different solutions."

Russia's star man, Yury Zhirkov, a former Chelsea midfielder, only came on in the second half and had to limp off with an injury. But Capello explained his reasons behind the surprise selection.

"I spoke with Zhirkov before the game and told him he needed to be ready to play in the second half. I then had to change the team because he got injured," Capello said.

"The players also lost their concentration, and against Brazil you can't lose your concentration."

Former England coach Capello also said there were a number of contrasts to managing on the international scene with Russia.

"It's the same, but it is also different," he said. "For two reasons: The Russian league stops during the winter and the language is hard, but I am happy because we can do something really important for this country. The target that everyone knows about is to play in the World Cup."

(China Daily 03/27/2013 page22)