Northern Ireland coach Michael O’Neill was asked to give some advice to the ailing Brazil national team ahead of his own side’s crunch Euro 2016 encounter with world champions Germany.
Joachim Low’s men famously demolished Germany 7-1 in the 2014 World Cup semi-final in Belo Horizonte before lifting the trophy thanks to an extra-time triumph versus Argentina.
Brazil are arguably still feeling the effects of that humiliation, having parted company with coach Dunga on the back of a dispiriting group-stage exit at the Copa America Centenario.
In contrast, Northern Ireland are on the crest of a wave following the surprise 2-0 win over Ukraine that leaves them within touching distance of a place in the last 16 of Euro 2016.
They will resume underdog duties in Paris on Tuesday and, ahead of tackling Germany, a Brazilian journalist sought O’Neill’s counsel on how the five-time World Cup winners might learn from his minnows.
“What can Brazil learn from us?” O’Neill repeated, somewhat sheepishly in the Parc des Princes media conference room.
“What you learn from that is the situation of expectation [in the World Cup semi-final], tension in the team, how to deal with disappointment on the pitch, which I think Brazil didn’t deal with.
“It was fairly evident 25 minutes in they were looking for the final whistle. If there’s anything we do possess that Brazil maybe don’t it’s that we will go until the final whistle regardless of the score.
“In the first game [a 1-0 defeat to Poland] we didn’t play as well as we wanted to but we were in it. We won the game against Ukraine and scored in the 96th minute.
“So we will bring intensity and spirit, however long it lasts. Other than that, I’m not sure what we can offer you as Brazilians.
“From a tactical or coaching point of view, you probably saw everything not to do so we’ll make sure we do everything in our power to prevent that kind of evening tomorrow.”
O’Neill was left to contemplate the growing global appeal of his players, having fielded a question over their burgeoning popularity in France – something he hopes to enhance with memorable exploits in the capital.
“It’s good to know we have popularity here in France,” he said. “The players have certainly enjoyed the experience, we’ve had a wonderful base just north of Lyon.
“Everyone has their favourite teams but if they see smaller teams do well in the tournament, they can become everyone else’s second team.
“If we’ve created an atmosphere that’s positive it’s because we came in without an arrogance, we don’t have anything blase about us.
“We’re humble, hard-working but also have goals of our own that we want to achieve. Hopefully, with the level of performance, we can win some more games and win some more friends.”
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