Brazil’s 1-0 win over world champions Germany gave the South Americans a modicum of revenge for their 7-1 semi-final humiliation four years ago but the confidence boost comes with a caveat for the five-time World Cup winners.
Coach Tite was delighted with the way his players overcame the Germans in Berlin, particularly in the second half, when the under-strength home side fought hard for an equaliser.
The performance ended Germany’s 22-game unbeaten run and bolstered Tite’s record of just one loss in 19 games.
Both coach and players played up the psychological aspect of the win and insisted beating the Germans at home helped Brazil regain their rightful place in a world elite that many felt was questioned after the disastrous end to their home World Cup in 2014 and poor performances at consecutive Copas America.
“There’s a little bit of a feeling we’ve regained some self-esteem,” Tite said. “There’s a component of pride.”
Thiago Silva echoed that sentiment immediately after the game, insisting the most successful World Cup nation be taken more seriously.
“This shirt demands more respect,” the PSG defender said.
Students of history, however, may cringe at the overt shows of confidence less than three months before Brazil take on Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia in Group E.
Historically, Brazil tend to do better at the World Cup when they go there as underdogs.
In 1970, 1994 and 2002 the Selecao was slated at home by fans and press and yet they rose to the occasion, most memorably in 1970 when a Pele-led side wowed the world with one of the most memorable teams ever to play the game.
Conversely, the much-favoured teams of 1982 – with Zico, Socrates, Falcao and Junior – and 2006 – featuring Ronaldo, Kaka, Adriano and Ronaldinho – crashed out early.
Tite is nothing if not shrewd and he will focus on maintaining a balance between encouraging his side and keeping their feet on the ground.
He has already named 15 of the 23 players he will take to Russia and Douglas Costa’s performance against Germany almost certainly guaranteed him a spot.
But with a settled first team and healthy competition for the remaining places Tite’s most important job may not be choosing who gets a seat on the plane. It’s about preparing their heads for when they get there.