Brazil head coach Tite has warned Neymar should not be expected to win the World Cup on his own as the squad prepare for the crucial Group E showdown with Serbia in Moscow.
The world’s most expensive player, who battled back from a fractured metatarsal to be fit for Russia, again took centre stage in the fallout from Brazil’s late 2-0 victory over Costa Rica in St Petersburg.
Neymar saw his successful penalty appeal overturned after review by the video assistant referee, before Philippe Coutinho finally broke the deadlock in stoppage time, with the Paris St Germain forward scoring another to wrap up a first victory for Brazil at the 2018 finals.
Having been given another dose of some rough treatment by the opposition – just as in the opening game against Switzerland – Neymar came in for criticism back in Brazil after breaking down in tears following the full-time whistle.
Tite, though, insisted it cannot always be about Neymar and knows it will take a collective effort to secure the result needed at the Spartak Stadium on Wednesday to book a place in the last 16.
“There is an excessive responsibility (on Neymar) in terms of success and that is not the way to go, and the coach is not going to do that,” Tite said at Brazil’s pre-match press conference.
“Each one of us has our own responsibility. We should not place it all on his shoulders, the whole group will solve it.”
“Can he do it? of course he can, in some circumstances, yes.”
Tite added: “Maybe we need one more match and he will be in his full form physically and technically, having his full potential, because he is outside the normal standards.”
The Brazil coach also defended Neymar’s tearful outburst, revealing he had cried when qualification for the 2018 World Cup had been secured, and not for the first time.
“I cried because I was happy and satisfied – that is our emotional characteristic. I cried of pride and pleasure in a moment of so much pressure to be able to play a great match,” he said.
“I am showing the other side, of a coach who also has his feelings and understands that reason and emotion have to be balanced, and adjusted.”
Brazil head into their final Group E match top of the group on four points, along with Switzerland, who play eliminated Costa Rica in Nizhny Novgorod.
Serbia, with three points, have little margin for error if they are to progress to the last 16.
“This game is going to be decisive. Our continuity in this tournament depends fundamentally on this match,” said Tite, who is expected to name an unchanged starting XI, but will be without winger Douglas Costa because of a thigh problem.