Winning ugly no issue for Brazil

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iol spt pic Neymar Getty Images Brazil striker Neymar has admitted he is happy to win ugly. Photo: Clive Brunskill

Fortaleza - Brazil striker Neymar has admitted he is happy to win ugly as he looks to take another step towards delivering his country's sixth World Cup on home soil against Colombia in Fortaleza on Friday.

La Selecao have been criticised for some of their less convincing performances on route to the quarter-finals, most notably in squeezing past Chile on penalties in the last 16.

“You can't always enjoy yourself and win 4-0 or 5-0. Football nowadays is so difficult, so even, that the team who is most committed on the pitch ends up winning,” said the Barcelona man on Wednesday.

“I don't want a show. That's the last thing we are trying to do. We are not necessarily here to produce a spectacle. We are here to run to the end, until we are tired, and come out as winners.”

Neymar fell to the ground in tears as Chile's Gonzalo Jara missed the decisive spot-kick in the shootout in Belo Horizonte with teammates Julio Cesar and captain Thiago Silva also seen to cry in relief as much as joy.

Worried that carrying the expectations of 200 million Brazilians is becoming too much for his squad, coach Luiz Felipe Scolari called the team's sports psychologist Regina Brandao in for an extra session with the players on Tuesday.

And Neymar said the sessions were having the desired effect.

“I had never done anything like it before and I am quite enjoying it,” added the 22-year-old.

“It is not only us, in football, who are surrounded by emotion every day and need psychologists. I think it could do every person good, to make one more relaxed.”

Neymar also insisted he will be fully-fit to face the Colombians despite suffering thigh and knee injuries against Chile.

One of the major concerns for Scolari has been the lack of support for Neymar in attacking areas as he has scored half of his side's eight goals after four games, whilst other forwards Fred, Jo and Hulk have struggled to make an impact.

Neymar, though, claimed the team isn't overdependent on him.

“I don't feel overburdened either on the pitch or off it. I have team-mates who help me by winning the ball back, scoring goals, setting them up,” he said.

“The Brazil team doesn't have just one person who has to do everything.”

Scolari will be forced into at least one change from the side that faced Chile as Luis Gustavo is suspended so Tottenham Hotspur's Paulinho is expected to come back into the side.

Gustavo's absence is even more critical for the hosts given the sensational form of the tournament's top goalscorer, Colombia's James Rodriguez.

The Monaco playmaker has taken on the mantle of his side's focal point with ease in the absence of the injured Radamel Falcao with five goals in four games, including a sensational dipping volley to open the scoring in his side's 2-0 win over Uruguay in the last 16.

A fourth consecutive win for Jose Pekerman's men took them into the last eight for the first time and ahead of the biggest game in Colombian football's history, midfielder Carlos Sanchez insisted they won't be overawed by their opponents.

“Afraid? No, respectful, yes, because it's Brazil, the organising country, because of its players, its coaches, and for everything Brazil represents,” he said.

And Rodriguez believes Brazil should be just as worried about him as his countrymen should be about Neymar.

“We're facing a very tough rival, which has great players, but they also have to think that we have great players.”

History, though, is against the Colombians as they have only beaten Brazil twice in 25 previous meetings and only once in a competitive fixture at the 1991 Copa America.

Sapa-AFP


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