Maradona: Brazil “on the way” to the title
Argentina legend Diego Maradona believes Brazil are “on the way” to their sixth World Cup title in Russia following their 2-0 defeat of Mexico in the round of 16 on Monday.
“I saw a team that is solid and on the way to the title,” Maradona said on his Venezuelan television program, De la Mano del Diez, Xinhua reports. “I like (Brazil coach) Tite a lot. Mexico wanted to play like they did against Germany, giving everything. You can’t ask for anything more than that from Mexico.”
Lukaku: ‘Neymar isn’t an actor’
Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku defended Brazil star Neymar from accusations of being an “actor” on the pitch and backed him to become the best player in the world ahead of their meeting on Friday. When asked whether he sees Neymar as “skilful or an actor”, Lukaku told reporters: “Skilful. To me he’s not an actor. Players who play against him are tougher because he has quality that is out of the ordinary. I think Neymar in the future will be the best in the world and I’m happy to be playing against him for the second time.”
Thiago Silva: Belgium ‘deserving’ but Brazil is always favourite
Thiago Silva is not scared of the favourites tag for Brazil after they beat Mexico 2-0 in Samara to set up a match against Belgium in the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
“Belgium are very strong physically and technically,” Thiago Silva said. “Belgium deserve to play in the last 16. I think that in all competitions Brazil is the favourite. But we know that’s not enough. We have to work hard and give our best in every game if we want to win the title. We will continue to work and rest well because Friday’s game will be even more difficult.”
Tite: We need to stay cool under pressure
Brazilian coach Tite insists that his players must remain calm despite the pressure they face ‘The biggest challenge of a World Cup is fortitude,’ he said. ‘The pressure is immense. Extraordinary. And it proliferates through [to] the [players’] families. I say: ‘Don’t listen [to what people say.] Don’t watch, because there’s a lot of psychological pressure.’ He quoted the great Argentinian coach Carlos Bianchi, who had once told him to ‘be mentally strong, remain balanced’ and focused. ‘That really got imprinted on my mind,’ Tite reflected. ‘We should have some common sense. Neither euphoria, nor the fear of losing. Keeping your head cool.’
Martinez: We are ready for Brazil
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said his players will not be intimidated by the occasion as they face Brazil on Friday for a place in the World Cup semi-finals.”It is a big occasion, you can’t hide that. If you try to hide it you’re a bit of a stupid person,” Martinez told reporters Thursday.”We’re as ready as we’ll ever be, in the previous two years we’ve been working towards this moment.”Brazil are ranked second in the world, we’re number three, we know who we are and we know the magnitude of the game.”