Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari on Monday urged his troops to sharpen up a day before their 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ warm-up with Panama.
Scolari blasted his side after a Sunday training session which he said he "didn't like at all" owing to poor marking and perceived sloppiness. And with only ten days to go to their opening World Cup match against Croatia in Sao Paulo, the man who led the Selecao to glory in 2002 insisted it was time to crack the whip
Sunday, "the marking was sloppy, we left spaces in the middle of the park and took up questionable positions," Scolari observed. "We cannot let our attitude slip a week before the Cup. We cannot lose the identity which we forged at the Confederations Cup," the dress rehearsal his side won almost 12 months ago.
Tuesday's test at the Serra Dourada stadium in Goiania, some 200 km from the capital Brasilia, is the penultimate chance for Scolari to look at options in reserve. Friday against Serbia in Sao Paulo is his side's final friendly outing before the real thing starts with the Croatians in a Group A also comprising Mexico and Cameroon.
Scolari, calling for more inventive subtlety and tactical nous from his charges, said the players know full well what he demands and expects. "I urged them what I always do - to be serious and play each match as if it were the last."
Scolari can make up to six substitutions in the game against Panama and said he would use the chance to run the rule over the options at his disposal. Even so, against Croatia he will essentially keep faith with the players who saw off Spain in the FIFA Confederations Cup final.
Scolari, who said he would have liked a few more days to prepare for the 12 June opener at Sao Paulo's Corinthians Arena, said Panama were not to be underestimated. "They are a good side - we have been following their work. We have to take the game seriously and see how we are coming along."
Scolari stressed no side in Brazil's group would be easy to beat - noting Cameroon are coming off a friendly draw with Germany, no less. Some 20,000 fans were on hand to see Brazil train under Scolari's watchful gaze and jostle to catch a glimpse of the likes of Neymar.
Resting skipper Thiago Silva, plus midfielders Paulinho and Fernandinho, Scolari is set to give Ramires a start ahead of Hernanes and Dante. Hulk is also set to start in a 4-2-3-1 formation, completing, along with Oscar and Neymar, a trident supporting spearhead Fred.