The numbers say it all: out of 26 matches under Tite’s command, A Seleção have won 20, drawn four and lost only two. They have scored 55 goals and conceded just eight. Coming into Friday’s meeting with Belgium, they had never conceded more than one goal in a game and had put together a run of 15 matches without defeat.
However, the second of those defeats and two of those goals arrived in a dramatic quarter-final in Kazan. The 2-1 defeat by Belgium saw the team’s hopes of winning the tournament for a sixth time slip through their fingers.
Harsher observers may point out that the only numbers that matter are the final score. In the cold light of day, there is no hiding from the fact that Brazil were eliminated at the quarter-final stage for the third time in four FIFA World Cups™.
“It’s something that’s hard to say now, in the heat of the moment, but the coaching team deserve a lot of credit,” said Renato Augusto, whose goal gave his team hope against the Belgians. “I thought that we deserved at least a draw today. We gave it everything. Tite tried every option, but unfortunately the [second] goal never came.”
It has been over 40 years since a Brazil manager remained in charge for two consecutive editions of the World Cup, when Mario Zagallo led the team at West Germany 1974 following their triumph at Mexico 1970.
According to centre-half and captain Miranda, it is important that the team keep faith in their leader. “Tite has done a great job and has to remain in charge. He’s an exemplary professional,” he told FIFA.com.
Fighting to hold back his emotions, the defender was nonetheless quick to credit the opposition. “We came up against a great opponent. They should be congratulated. They fought until the end and got the result.”
In his press conference, Tite analysed the exceptional level of football on show in Kazan. “Despite all the pain that I’m feeling, I’m still capable of evaluating [the game]. Anyone who enjoys good football will have liked what they saw,” he declared.
Tite's holistic approach and influence
The coach took charge of A Seleção on 20 June 2016. He has been in the job for a little over two years, during which time he has given the team a new lease of life.
Furthermore, his influence has extended beyond the field of play. Under Tite, the coaching team has expanded and improved its capacity for research and analysis, as well as communication with players, clubs and coaches outside the national set-up.
“The fans are capable of reaching their own conclusions. Sometimes it hurts. But one thing’s for sure: they are capable of analysing what took place. It’s about more than the result,” stated the manager.
Tite preferred not to speculate on his own plans. “I’m proud of our work. I’m feeling this defeat, but it’s about being able to take stock. I can’t get ahead of myself,” he said. Nonetheless, he reflected that “whenever a coach is given more time, in theory his work will improve."
For now, A Seleção must wait and see. The team will naturally be anxious to go on another winning run. But with Qatar 2022 still four years away, they will also know that time is on their side.