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'Mexico can say nothing' - Tite defends Neymar amid Osorio storm

1:02 AM IST 03/07/18
Neymar - Cropped
The Paris Saint-Germain forward was criticised in Mexican quarters after Brazil's victory, but that has been brushed aside by the Selecao coach

Brazil head coach Tite jumped to the defence of star man Neymar after the forward was the central figure during Monday's 2-0 World Cup win over Mexico.

Neymar scored the first and set up the second for Roberto Firmino in Samara as the Selecao advanced to a quarter-final tie with Belgium or Japan, consigning their opponents to a last-16 defeat for the seventh finals in succession.

Between those two goals, Neymar appeared to be intentionally trodden on by Mexico's Miguel Layun, prompting a typically theatrical reaction from the Paris Saint-Germain forward.

Neymar's form and perceived penchant for play-acting have been criticised in some quarters at this tournament, including by Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio.

After the game, Osorio pointed the finger at Neymar for setting a poor example with his "acting", but Tite insisted his man was the victim on this occasion.

"I saw what happened, look at the video, you can say nothing," the coach told a post-match news conference.

"They stepped on him. I just said play, I saw it on the screen, there's nothing to say, all you can do is watch.

"He has to play ball and I will talk about it, the referees will do the refereeing and everyone will do what they have to do."

Asked if Neymar was becoming more mature and curbing the emotional side of his game, Tite responded: "I think your question answers itself. We created some expectations and I can say yes he's improving on this aspect.

"When you waste your energy on situations which are not the play you lose focus. He likes to play, dribble, sometimes people don't understand, he's very agile, very fast.

"It's a problem to provoke the players in the last third? It's not a sin, that's what the coach says you should do.

"Brazilian football has these characteristics, especially in the last third of the pitch and then you have the situation of not losing this characteristic but at the same time of course maybe taking the focus off him and I said let me talk about the refereeing and the other coaches, that's our responsibility, then he plays. He understands it's up to me, [assistant coach] Sylvinho and the others to talk about that."

Having made a slow start at the finals after recovering from a broken metatarsal, Neymar looked somewhere close to his best against Mexico - an assessment Tite endorsed.

"Neymar was three and a half months without playing a match. At the top level this is a lot," he said.

"Brazil had been following this and a top-notch athlete would need four or five matches to recover. The previous match he played very well and he repeated a standard that he'd played before, giving his quality and his excellence."