Soccer

Scolari says Brazil boosted by big win over France

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GOIANIA, Brazil (AP)

Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said Brazil's victory over France in its last match before the Confederations Cup has put the team on the right track to win the World Cup warm-up tournament for the third time in a row.

Without playing superbly, Brazil showed enough improvement on Sunday in its 3-0 win compared to past matches to end its official preparations for the Confederations Cup on a high note.

''We needed this victory,'' Scolari said. ''It gave us more confidence just at the right time.''

Brazil opens the Confederations Cup against Japan on Saturday in Brasilia, the nation's capital. It will then face Mexico and Italy in the group stage. Brazil has won the tournament three times in total: in Saudi Arabia in 1997, in Germany in 2005 and in South Africa in 2009.

''This victory is a good first step for us as we approach the Confederations Cup,'' the coach said. ''It shows we have a competitive team which can contend for the title.''

Brazil had some disappointing results after Scolari returned to the national team in December. It had previouslt won only one match - against Bolivia - and drawn with Italy, Russia and Chile. The team also played England twice, losing 2-1 in London and drawing 2-2 at the revamped Maracana last week.

Sunday's result in the southern city of Porto Alegre ended Brazil's 21-year winless run against France, and gave the ''Selecao'' its first victory over a former World Cup champion in nearly four years.

''After this victory the players will feel more confident,'' Scolari said. ''They know of their potential and now they know that this team can win.''

Chelsea playmaker Oscar and substitute midfielders Hernanes and Lucas scored Brazil's goals at the Arena Gremio.

''The players who got in finished what the others had started,'' Scolari said. ''It's good to know that we have balance in the squad.''

The coach said the victory was also important to get the fans to support Brazil again following the series of poor results. The national team was loudly jeered recently at home and Scolari has been calling for the public's support, saying it will be crucial to play well.

''Our fans reacted wonderfully in a difficult match against a good team like France,'' Scolari said. ''We need this push from them.''

Local media also praised the national team.

''Brazil wins and gains strength for the Confederations Cup,'' read an O Globo newspaper front-page headline on Monday.

Scolari said having the team practicing together for a longer period played a role in the team's improvement.

''We had seven days together and now we will have another week, which will certainly make a difference again,'' the coach said.

Scolari said he will likely play the same 11 from the France match in the opener against Japan.

Brazil hasn't won a significant title since the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa.

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