Tite knows Lionel Messi cannot be stopped so the Brazil coach is setting out to limit the Argentina star’s influence in Thursday’s CONMEBOL World Cup qualifier.
The qualifying fixture between the two South American giants has centred on Messi and his return to the national team, having missed the past three matches due to a groin injury.
Argentina forward Lucas Pratto has been vocal in the media, claiming Brazil fear the five-time Ballon d’Or winner, which was quickly dismissed by Brazil full-back Dani Alves and Co.
Asked about Messi on Wednesday and his plans to try and stop the 29-year-old Barcelona maestro, Tite – without giving too much away – said: “Lionel Messi does not stop, Neymar does not stop.
“You can decrease their actions. You can try to decrease the number of entries, but what am I going to do, is that the question? I’m not telling.”
Tite added: “I can tell several players individually that they can make a difference and decide a game.
“I do not agree that a single player will find the victory. At some point he may shine, but because the collective will be strong. On the field will be [Philippe] Coutinho, [Gonzalo] Higuain, [Angel] Di Maria, Douglas Costa, Gabriel Jesus. I mean, there are many players with great technical qualities that in an individual play, in a moment of creation, can make the difference.
“As I said before, we have to improve the virtues that we have – and that is my challenge as a coach – play in a way that allows the creative side of players to give the condition of improvisation, individual play in the last third of the field … This is our challenge, for me and for [Argentina coach] Edgardo Bauza. On the other hand, decrease – because we cannot neutralise a great player – but decrease their actions. How we’re going to do that is another story.”
Brazil host Argentina as the CONMEBOL leaders after 10 rounds in South America.
Tite’s men have won four successive qualifiers to sit a point clear at the top, five clear of sixth-placed Argentina, who are winless in their past three games.
“The fact that Argentina is outside the classification zone is not a motivation for us, that would be small thinking. I think of the show, that we have to make a great match and that we can win. But not that this creates a bad situation for the other, that is to think small,” he said.
“We want to win because it is good, because it is part of the sport, because it will be a great spectacle, because we have ambition, we want to be better, we want to qualify. We are not classified. If you look four rounds back we were back there. And we know all this. Argentina have an incredible technical quality. [Pablo] Zabaleta plays very well, [Javier] Mascherano too. If we sleep a bit at the defence, they have Di Maria, [Gonzalo] Higuain and [Sergio] Aguero. I’m talking about others without mention of Messi.”
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