Brazil may not have come flying out of the traps at this World Cup, but defender David Luiz believes the stern tests they have faced in their opening matches can only improve their chances of winning the trophy.
When the draw was made back in December, the hosts looked to have got off lightly in a section with three sides who had all struggled, to different degrees, during qualifying.
But Brazil were perhaps lucky to beat Croatia 3-1 in their first Group A match after conceding the first goal, and Mexico showed that they are a much better side now under Miguel Herrera than they were six months ago as they held the tournament favourites to a 0-0 draw in Fortaleza on Tuesday.
“I wanted great games and two great victories for Brazil,” admitted Luiz when asked for his assessment of Brazil’s start to the competition.
“But that way we would not have had the opportunity to see what is really required in a World Cup or what we are going to come up against later on,” he added of a squad with only five survivors from the group that reached the quarter-finals in South Africa in 2010.
“Sometimes you start off winning games 3-0 and then suddenly you lose in the next round and you go home, but this last game showed us what is required.”
‘Learn to suffer’ –
After Tuesday’s match at the Castelao Stadium, it seemed that the Brazilian camp were showering such high praise on the Mexicans in an attempt to deflect attention away from their own defects.
But the former Chelsea centre-back, who earlier this month completed a move to French champions Paris Saint-Germain that will see him team up with international team-mate Thiago Silva, appeared genuinely struck by the quality of the Mexican team.
“If Mexico play like that in every game from now, they will go far,” the 27-year-old insisted in Teresopolis.
The level of scrutiny on the Brazil team at their training camp is intense, with hundreds of journalists from all around the world watching every move of Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side and trying to pick holes in their preparations.
The local media have been concerned at the perceived lack of time spent on the training field, although Friday’s session did last for almost two hours.
The media have also questioned how the temperate climate at Brazil’s base 800 metres above sea level in the mountains north of Rio de Janeiro can adequately prepare them for games in the heat of Fortaleza or Brasilia, where they tackle Cameroon in their final group match.
However, within the squad the perception is that Brazil are still getting used to the level of competition in the World Cup, something which does not compare to that seen in the Confederations Cup a year ago.
“In the Confederations Cup things went so well because our desire to win was so much greater than the other teams,” said Luiz. “But everyone wants to win the World Cup in Brazil.
“Australia almost beat the Netherlands, who hammered Spain. The champions have been knocked out already. We know we can evolve and get better, but we need to learn to suffer.
“As players, we dream of moments like this. We are working hard and we believe in our philosophy.”
– Brazil need only a point against Cameroon to be certain of progressing to the last 16 and a meeting with either Chile or the Netherlands.