On Tuesday, Brazil coach Tite set off for Russia for the Final Draw of the 21st FIFA World Cup. Following his side’s superb performance in the South American qualifying competition, he will be one of the most prominent figures at Friday’s event, to be held at the State Kremlin Palace in Moscow. Before jetting off to the Russian capital to find out who Brazil will be facing in the group phase, he spoke exclusively to FIFA.com. Part one of the interview, in which Tite discusses his side’s spectacular revival in the qualifiers, Neymar’s role in the team, and his reaction to the 7-1 defeat to Germany at Brazil 2014, is available for you to read here. In the second part, the Brazil boss talks about the importance of the Final Draw, the teams he fears the most, and the modern game in general.
FIFA.com: How important is the Final Draw for you? Is there any team you’d like to avoid?
Tite: The most important thing for Brazil is for us to keep on growing, developing and getting stronger. We’ve got no say when it comes to the teams and the types of football we’re going to have to face. We’ll just have to prepare for it, because whatever happens we’ll be coming up against some big teams, either in the draw or at a later stage. We could come up against Russia, Germany, Japan or anyone. They all have different styles. We need to get stronger as a team, both mentally and physically. That’s going to be crucial.
Brazil swept all before them in the qualifiers after you took over in August 2016. How do you prevent that from being the team’s peak and ensure that it kicks on, which was something Argentina were unable to do in 2002, for example?
With all due respect, I have to disagree with you about (Marcelo) Bielsa’s Argentina peaking then. They were in a really tough group with England, Nigeria and Sweden, and it all came down to a penalty in a very tight game with England. Argentina could easily have gone through and knocked the English out. But the group phase is always tricky. That’s a fact of life. In an individual sport you can always plan your ideal peak, but in a team sport the experience of playing in the qualifiers makes you stronger as a unit. In the case of Argentina that year, it was more to do with the quality of the opposition than the team peaking and then falling away. Tite and Edu Gaspar are on their way to Russia to find out who Brazil will be playing in the group phase at the World Cup!
What have Germany got that you wish you had?
Germany are very strong. They’re a solid unit with a coach who’s been in charge for 11 years and who was an assistant to [Jurgen] Klinsmann before that. He has an in-depth knowledge of the team, and they’re the world champions. On top of all that, he’s brought through new players to strengthen the successful generation of 2014. They have a long-term project in place and that’s why they’re so strong. It’s a real challenge for me to come up against something like that.
Germany, Brazil and Spain seem to be the top three today. What have Spain got that you wish you had?
Spain play a very similar type of game to Brazil. They look after the ball well and create triangles to move it around. We’ve maybe got faster and more aggressive players now, but they’re both very similar styles. Spain have got Isco and [Andres] Iniesta, who set the tone. It’s a style based on supporting the player in possession and keeping the ball, which are two things I really admire about the Spain team. I think you can expand the top three to include teams like France, who have got more experience than before and a different kind of strength with the likes of [Antoine] Griezmann, [Kylian] Mbappe and [Alexandre] Lacazette. They’re very strong. Then there’s Portugal, the European champions, and Belgium, who have a top-class generation of players, with [Kevin] De Bruyne, [Romelu] Lukaku, [Thibaut] Courtois and [Axel] Witsel. There are some very strong teams around.
Lionel Messi says that Argentina will be stronger now after their qualifying struggles. Do you agree with that?
I’m with Messi. They overcame a huge amount of pressure in the qualifiers. When you have three different coaches in the same qualifying competition, there are bound to be things that don’t work smoothly. But now that they’re through and they’ve got more time to work with and they have quality of [Jorge] Sampaoli and his players, I’m convinced they’re going to get better. I can’t say by how much but I’m sure they’re going to improve.
What’s your take on the modern game?
Technique is the most important thing in today’s game. That’s what the ability of coaches to organise their teams tactically, make them balanced and get their ideas across to players depends on. Physical fitness is also a key factor, especially when it comes to challenging for the ball and switching direction. Another factor, and perhaps the most important one, is mental strength, the ability to handle pressure and the mental demands of getting a result, which are always there. The ability to deal with pressure is hugely important. Success hinges on these four things.
Individual talent used to be enough to achieve success, but these days there are several other factors that come into play. Is football harder today than it’s ever been?
Yes, I’d definitely say that it is. There’s so much theoretical input and data out there now, which is making the gap between teams smaller and smaller all the time. Individual talent is no longer enough on its own today. You need a whole series of factors to come together.