BELOHORIZONTE, Brazil (Reuters) – Brazilian fans will be vital to lifting the team when they return to the site of their worst defeat in this week’s Copa America semi-final against Argentina, coach Tite said on Monday.
The match on Tuesday is at Belo Horizonte’s Mineirao stadium, the same ground where Brazil lost 7-1 to Germany in the 2014 World Cup semi-final.
Attendance has been poor at many of the games during the Copa America, even some of those involving the hosts, but Tite was in his customary positive mood when asked about the role fans will play.
“The supporters, if they can bring the same warmth that they showed us on the way to our hotel, I am certain that not just me but all the players will be grateful,” he said.
“This is the place where we have most felt the warmth of the fans,” he claimed. “Even more than in my home of Porto Alegre.”
The subject of the 7-1 defeat was omnipresent at Tite’s media conference, but the coach was not about to be put off by the focus on a match played two years before he took over.
Only one player who was on the pitch in that defeat, Fernandinho, is in Brazil’s Copa America squad.
Brazil also beat Argentina 3-0 at the Mineirao in the World Cup qualifiers in 2016 in one of Tite’s first games in charge.
“There’s two sides, that win is not an endorsement and neither does it relieve the 7-1 defeat we had here,” Tite said.
“This is a new opportunity for a great game, for great work, to put on a great show.”
Brazil have yet to concede a goal in the competition and they have scored eight, albeit in bursts, with a 3-0 win over Bolivia and a 5-0 drubbing of Peru.
They drew 0-0 with Venezuela in the group phase and recorded the same result in their quarter-final against Paraguay before advancing 4-3 on penalties.
That win could provide a potential psychological advantage over the Argentines, who lost the last two Copa America finals on penalties.
But Tite said games between Argentina and Brazil were always tight and he admitted the semi-final had already caused him sleepless nights.
“I didn’t sleep properly yesterday,” he said.
“I’m not Superman. I have my own way. Yesterday I woke up at 3:15.”
Filipe Luis is Brazil’s only doubt for the match, with Richarlison having recovered from the mumps and back training with the team.
(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)