Fortaleza (Brazil): Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said that the World Cup hosts had reason to be satisfied with their performance despite being held to a 0-0 Group A draw by Mexico here.
The Selecao struggled to break down the Mexican backline at the Castelao Stadium yesterday, and when they did they came undone against inspired goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, who made three stunning saves, two to deny Neymar and one from a late Thiago Silva header.
But Scolari was bullish in front of the press, emphasising that Brazil remain on course to qualify for the last 16, with the Mexico draw following their opening 3-1 win against Croatia in Sao Paulo.
“In my opinion — it’s my own, not that of the critics — the team played better than they did against Croatia,” he said. “There was at least an extra 10 per cent than what there was against Croatia.
“The team has evolved. We can still improve, but we can still qualify for the next round. We showed quality, so I am satisfied.”
Cameroon and Croatia meet in another Group A game in Manaus today, but regardless of what happens in that encounter, Brazil know a win against Cameroon in Brasilia on June 23 will secure their place in the knockout phase.
“Brazilians are mad enough to believe that the others are not playing for anything. Mexico played more or less the same game as us. They had just about the same amount of possession, and the same number of shots on goal.
“The result wasn’t what we wanted but the only thing missing for us was a goal.”
The most encouraging aspect of the performance for Brazil came at the back, where captain Silva was more like his usual commanding self alongside David Luiz.
Together they snuffed out the threat of Oribe Peralta, the striker who had scored Mexico’s goal in their 1-0 win over Cameroon last Friday and also netted both goals when El Tri beat Brazil 2-1 in the London Olympic final in 2012.
“With each game that goes by we are evolving in different respects, but people start to have doubts when you don’t get a victory to go along with that evolution,” said the Paris Saint-Germain centre-back.
“We stayed calm today, even at times when we were suffering. We already knew how it would be because the Mexican players move well and they have so much quality in midfield.”
The Brazil squad now have a day off before returning to training at their Teresopolis base on Thursday as they start their preparations for the clash with Cameroon.