Tite: It would be wrong to ask Neymar about Messi

Tite has insisted it would be wrong to ask Neymar for tips on how to stifle Lionel Messi. The Brazil No10 has become firm friends with his Argentina counterpart since joining Barcelona in 2013, and even gave him a ride from Sao Paulo to Belo Horizonte – the scene of Thursday evening’s 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifier – on his private jet.

“The first thing I learnt is that, ethically, we shouldn’t ask players about their club team-mates,” said Tite. “They work together day by day – ethically it wouldn’t be cool. I could ask someone who has already played alongside and now plays for another team.”

Daniel Alves, who performed alongside Messi at Camp Nou for eight years until moving to Juventus earlier this year, is the only Brazil player who falls into that bracket. However, the 33-year-old wingback is also mates with Messi, and in Tite’s view, what’s the point anyway?

“You don’t stop Messi, just like you don’t stop Neymar,” he said. “You limit their involvement. We can lessen how much he’s involved. How will I do that? I won’t say.”

Brazil head South America’s race to Russia, one point clear or Uruguay. Argentina are five points off the pace in sixth. Many coaches in Tite’s position would try to play it off as just another match. Not the 55-year-old.

“With the grandeur of the game, it would be hypocritical to say that it’s the same as the others,” said the former defensive midfielder. “In qualification it’s worth the same three points, but the size, the history, the extraordinary pressure on the teams, with the best players in the world . The result will only bring confidence if you play well.”