Brazil star Neymar said the national team have slipped down the pecking order following their humiliating elimination at the FIFA World Cup.
The five-time world champions topped Group A but came crashing down to earth against eventual winners Germany, capitulating to a 7-1 defeat in the semi-finals.
Brazil’s woes were compounded in the third-place play-off, easily beaten 3-0 by the Netherlands as the host nation’s campaign ended in disappointing fashion.
Former coach Mano Menezes – now in charge of Corinthians – recently said European nations had surpassed Brazil with their superior technical ability.
And forward Neymar, who missed the final two games due to a fractured vertebra, echoed his comments in an interview with Brazilian network Globo.
“I think Brazilian football is behind. It’s behind Germany and Spain,” the 22-year-old said.
“We’ve slipped behind and we have to be man enough to admit it.”
Brazil’s failure came at a cost, with coach Luiz Felipe Scolari relieved of his duties but Neymar refused to blame the 65-year-old.
“I had a leader (who was) one of the best Brazilians coaches I’ve had,” he added.
“There was no particular mistake made by the Selecao. I am not someone who understands a huge amount about tactics.”