The environment of the Brazilian team in the World Cup was structured with one main concern, which is behind the two initial victories and the advance qualification to the round of 16: the health of the players, not only physical, but also mental, is the priority on the day a day of work and play.
Of the phrases that are multiplied in the changing room of the Training Center located in the Grand Hamad stadium, one sums up perfectly the intention behind the scenes, which is to take the weight of a World Cup dispute to a younger group than in 2018, but without opening hand of responsibility: “Concentrate and enjoy”.
The motto has been achieved with great rapport between athletes on and off the field, but also with constant interaction with family members. Not to mention the care offered by former world champions who play different roles on the coaching staff and share all their experience.
– We see a lot, at the hotel, at training, in the locker room. That joy of theirs, in the batucada. There is responsibility and relaxation – said Taffarel, goalkeeper trainer and world champion in 1994. According to him, the group is focused on the objective of playing seven games and being champion: – Living it day by day. There is not a but, a disapproval, a care. The game is over, it’s another story, another opponent. It’s a pleasure to live it.
In family: Tite prays to calm his grandson as he says goodbye to his father, assistant coach of the national team
Unlike the 2018 World Cup, when there was a greater mix with the presence of the athletes’ guests in the same hotel, now everything is divided, with times to work and to relax. In Sochi, a Russian spa, the day-to-day life consisted of the athletes interacting with their close ones. And those involved from the last tournament admit that this time the plan has been better.
In Russia, there were leaks of training by friends of players, complaints from relatives about line-ups and little privacy. The circumstance weakened the then national team director, Edu Gaspar, who coordinated everything above Tite. Today, Juninho Paulista, champion in 2002, occupies the position and is seen with a calm and happy face when verifying that this type of concern has paid off.
– There is no similar competition. As much experience as one has, the first game, the beginning of the Cup, is different – admits the five-time champion, concerned with the mental aspect in the first commitments.
Lightness in everyday life
Between short breaks, a drier climate and a very different time zone from Brazil, the concentration of the Brazilian team gains, after the first matches, an increasingly familiar air, with the presence of relatives and friends whenever possible. With each passing day, optimism grows and the CT receives more people and more animation. But when it comes to preparing for the next game, there is a gradual shielding. The whole stadium prepared for the work routine works as a company concerned that its employees are happy, and not just being exploited.
injured: Neymar and Danilo remain out and Alex Sandro also misses Brazil against Cameroon
As soon as the routine and obligations are over, as in yesterday’s replay after the match against Switzerland, the children take to the field. Young children of players break the mood and filter the pressure by playing with the ball with their parents, uncles and members of the coaching staff. After the activity, the players were allowed to have dinner with their families in Doha and return to the hotel just to sleep, further loosening the protocol. Today and tomorrow, before the game against Cameroon, the focus will resume and privacy will prevail again.
The contact between the athletes’ families and the members of the commission happens since the beginning of the preparation, in Italy, when the training sessions were open, but not at the hotel. At the time of the face-to-face meeting, the selection professionals dedicate exclusive attention for the time allowed, and then return to work. From the first game of the Cup, as soon as the match ends, the players automatically go to the stands to contact their family members. Many go up to the supporters’ area and enjoy themselves for a while, taking pictures, when most of the crowd has left. The behavior has become a habit, as well as the speech that runs through the locker room and is on the lips of the members of the coaching staff: that the person, not the player, comes first.
The mantra applies not only to taking the pressure off being in a World Cup, but also so that athletes don’t feel obliged to be machines that cannot fail under these circumstances. The most emblematic example of the moment is the recovery of Neymar and Danilo, and now Alex Sandro, who have received solidarity from the other players, concerned that their friends will be okay in the first place, and not that they will rush back to play. Vini Jr’s celebration of the disallowed goal against Switzerland, imitating the idol, illustrated how the number 10, even recovering from an injury, continues to live in this environment, and the mobilization for his return takes place in a mixture of exaltation and protection.
– He is a very important guy for the other players. I see how much they enjoy being around him, off and on the pitch. A very big reference. He will have his name marked, he is a protagonist, and he has to be in the middle of the story, and he will be – bet Taffarel.
There is, on the other hand, a routine typical of athletes among themselves in closed environments, which is also contagious for combining lightness and commitment. Drumming on the bus to the games and in the locker room minutes before the match has become a trademark that dates back to the first training sessions in Turin. That is, there is a pre-disposition to enjoy the moment, wear the shirt of the national team and live the World Cup to the full with joy.
– I feel represented. It is a generation that has more experienced players from the middle to the back, younger ones in front, and access to information happens in different ways. But all with love for the motherland. We see how much dedication, professionalism there is, in the pre and post-game – highlighted César Sampaio, Tite’s assistant and runner-up in 1998.
Sampaio, Juninho, Taffarel and technical observer Ricardo Gomes held a press conference that reinforced the image of a group protected by great champions. At the end of the chat, without the presence of players, they posed for a photo with Zinho and Júnior, who are also part of the select list of athletes with world titles. Surrounded by affection and an environment that exudes success on the field, the Brazilian team remains firm in its quest for its sixth championship.