Brazil coach Mano Menezes insisted today that there was no need to panic after his side lost their Copa America quarter-final shoot-out to Paraguay. The media were scathing after a poor match ended goalless following extra-time and lambasted A Seleção for contriving to miss all four of their penalties.
"I know you live and die by results," said Menezes. "But these will come if we continue on the path we are on. Of course if we keep raking over the four missed penalties that saw us go out then we will not talk about the game we played, which marked an evolution in the team and the squad."
The team had struggled to draws against Venezuela and Paraguay in the first phase before an improved performance saw them beat Ecuador 4-2 and allowed them to qualify for the last eight as Group B winners.
However, hope among fans that that improvement would continue into the knockout stages was quickly crushed and overall the impression left was of a patchy side with some fine approach play but a lack of end product. Menezes did insist, however, that they were on the right track to shine where he wants them to - at the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ they will host.
"The players are preparing to create the Brazil side which we all want. They are valued, respected and require respect at a most difficult moment. There can be criticism but it must be accompanied by respect and when that is lacking then we cannot reach the place where we need to be."
He admitted that the modern game had seen smaller fry such as Venezuela catch up the big fish. "Football today is evolving very much. When people talked about (Brazil not beating) Venezuela there was much criticism. But now Venezuela are through to the semi-finals. That is no accident."
And he said that Brazil were victims of wanting to stay true to their attacking philosophy. "It is different to defend for 90 minutes than to attack for 90 minutes. Uruguay will never play like Brazil - and Brazil will never play like Uruguay," who adopted a more cautious approach to see off Argentina, also on penalties.
Menezes had previously blamed the pitch for the spot-kick fiasco but admitted there was really no excuse for a top side to miss four penalties out of four. He concluded, however, that the Copa experience would serve as just another section on the learning curve leading to the World Cup, when failure really will not be tolerated.