Victory over Argentina takes pressure off Menezes
Brazil's convincing friendly victory over Argentina has taken some of the pressure off coach Mano Menezes.
Fans and local media praised Brazil's performance in a 2-0 win over the South American rival, giving a break to Menezes following criticism for the team's disappointing results. It was Brazil's first victory against a traditional powerhouse since Menezes took over the squad after the 2010 World Cup.
Brazil was expected to win, playing at home and with a more experienced squad, but it played well and the victory was enough to quiet most of the critics.
''Victory made in Brazil,'' read a front-page headline in the sports daily Lance on Thursday, praising the team's return to an attack-minded style.
Young stars Lucas and Neymar scored a goal each in the second half to give Brazil the victory and the title in the Superclassic of the Americas, a home-and-away series in which the South American rivals played only with domestic players. The teams drew 0-0 two weeks ago in the first leg at Cordoba, Argentina.
''Brazil plays well and beats Argentina,'' read a headline at the Estado de S. Paulo daily.
Menezes said the victory, and especially the convincing performance, were important to bring some peace to the team as it is revamped for the 2014 World Cup that Brazil will host.
He said the criticism that had been thrown against the team was not healthy for the players, even though he knew much of it was irrelevant.
''As the coach, you know how to distinguish the criticism which is fair and can help you and the one which is exaggerated,'' Menezes said.
The coach began his stint with Brazil with three straight victories, beating the United States, Ukraine and Iran in friendlies. But then it struggled, especially against traditional powerhouses - losing to Argentina, France and Germany and drawing at home against the Netherlands.
Menezes also failed in his first official tournament, as Brazil was eliminated by Paraguay in the quarterfinals of the Copa America in July.
The coach said he knew it was just a matter of time for the team to come through in an important match.
''We knew we could be playing better,'' Menezes said. ''I'm happy with how the team answered on the field. You won't always get the great results that you expect, but you have to stick to the plan and try to make as few changes as possible.''
Brazil's next matches will be against Costa Rica on Oct. 7 and Mexico on Oct. 11.
As host, Brazil does not need to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, so Menezes will have to rely mostly on friendlies to prepare his team for the tournament.
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