Brazil coach can’t sleep, Argentina’s relaxes before clash
BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — Brazil coach Tite can’t sleep before his team’s Copa América semifinal clash with archrivals Argentina, but his adversary Lionel Scaloni sounded somewhat relaxed for their meeting on Tuesday at the Mineirão Stadium.
Either the Brazilian leading the Seleção for three years, or the Argentine interim that learns as he goes since August, will be at Sunday’s final at the Maracanã Stadium.
For Brazil, playing without Neymar, a title can mean some stability after the frustration in the World Cup in Russia. Argentina hopes rebuild its team at the same time it takes a shot at winning its first trophy in 26 years, which would also be the first for superstar Lionel Messi with his national team.
Tite has already played against Argentina three times, with two wins and one loss. But that experience didn’t calm him down before the “superclásico.”
“I told you I am feeling a lot of anticipation, I couldn’t sleep and I won’t sleep again (tonight),” Brazil’s coach said in a media conference on Monday. “I woke up at 3:15 a.m., started thinking about the match. I have the habit of taking notes, so I did it. That is the reality of coaches, me, Scaloni.”
“I will not fake it, do one thing here and then say something different to the athletes,” he added. “Of course I have expectations, I am only human.”
Tite’s first match against Argentina was also the latest encounter between the two in Belo Horizonte. In November 2016, the hosts won 3-0 in World Cup qualifiers in Brazil’s first match at the Mineirão since the 7-1 hammering by the Germans in the 2014 World Cup semifinals.
“That win (against Argentina) doesn’t give us credit now and that defeat (against Germany) we had here doesn’t affect. What matters is the moment,” Tite said. “But the anticipation I felt then is the same I feel now.”
The troubles of Tite’s sleep go beyond Argentina. Brazil’s coach has been under criticism for his conservative choices and also for poor performances during Copa América, except for a 5-0 win against Peru. Lifting the trophy in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday could make his path to the Qatar World Cup in 2022 a little less uncertain.
Scaloni, on the other hand, sounded more relaxed than usual. Asked if he is sleeping as little as Tite, he said: “I do that already, it is not because of our rival.”
Argentina’s coach also made fun of reporters who hinted Sergio Agüero could leave the team to open way for a player with more defensive concerns.
“Agüero will play. I said it because I read I was in doubt, let me leave that clear,” Scaloni said. “The rest you will know tomorrow. Not even Messi is confirmed,” Scaloni jokingly said.
The Argentinian coach recognized Brazil is the favorite to win, but believes Tite’s lack of sleep comes from the different stakes for the hosts.
“For him it is his home, his people, there are different circumstances. For us it could grant us access to the final,” Scaloni said. “If this semifinal were against another team it would be the same. I don’t believe beating Brazil is a prize.”
Argentina started Copa América with a 2-0 defeat against Colombia, almost crashed out in the 1-1 draw with Paraguay, but improved in two 2-0 wins against Qatar and Venezuela. Scaloni said fans should expect another good performance against Brazil.
“Argentina fans can be calm, they will feel identification with our team against a tough rival. We will play the match we have to play for people to be proud,” he added.