Brazil’s Tite plays the polite visitor and talks up England experience

  • Brazil’s manager enjoys his visit to Wembley, ‘temple’ of football
  • Tite discusses Harry Kane and Gabriel Jesus comparisons

England remain a “big team” who have a chance of winning the World Cup with their combination of technical and physical attributes, according to the coach of Brazil.

Speaking in a stadium he described as a “temple” of football, Tite talked up his opponent on the eve of the latest glamour friendly at Wembley.

While such conduct is perhaps to be expected of a polite guest, the Brazilian genuinely enthused about the host country. He praised the qualities of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and even Gary Cahill. He pointed to the strength in depth of the national team and the diverse challenges of the Premier League. He even quoted the thoughts of Sir Alex Ferguson, though this may have been a faux pas. While a luminary of English football, Fergie is not quite an Englishman.

“All the big teams, like England, have this new generation coming through. Even though [Gareth] Southgate has only had 13 games so far they have Dele Alli, Kane and the experience of Cahill. Alli and Kane are not playing against us, but instead there will be Marcus Rashford and Jamie Vardy. The level is strong.

“They have got tradition which carries weight, so I see England as one of the favourites. And I’m not just saying that because I’m here at Wembley speaking in front of English people,” he added.

England will be Brazil’s first European opposition since they completed their World Cup qualification. The Seleção sealed their place in impressive style, losing only once in 18 games and scoring 41 goals in the process, but Tite played down the suggestion that this match would mean a shift in styles. “It’s not about facing European opposition,” he said. “It’s about facing an English team that is technical and physical in what is almost a heritage site of world football. Like the Maracaña it is a temple and if the players are to do their job they will have to bring their best performance. It is my job to help the players do that.”

Tite continued to talk positively about Kane, comparing him to his own talisman, Gabriel Jesus. “Kane is a penalty box player with an impressive finishing ability. He’s good in the air, good with his right foot and left. It’s very impressive, he has a lot of quality.

“On Gabriel Jesus I’ll say here what I said in Brazil. That [Manchester] City, who are the team that signed him, should be very pleased with Palmeiras and the coaches there who formed a player who is already at such a good level. To the point which he came here with a natural fluency, I already mentioned the mental capacity he has and his technical ability. He didn’t need much time to adapt, he was already showing a very good level.

“The characteristics of Gabriel Jesus and Kane are a bit different. Gabriel attacks the space, gives us that depth, Kane is more positional. They’re two strong strikers.”

Perhaps the question of stylistic difference has narrowed as European leagues have become more multicultural. Tite’s starting XI is likely to feature two Premier League players in Jesus and Philippe Coutinho, with Fernandinho, Willian, Roberto Firmino and Ederson all available from the bench. The coach said the influence of imports has meant that the English style of football has developed in recent years.

“The English style is a mixture of playing styles, especially now,” he said. “We’re seeing more football on the floor, more triangles. In the Premier League so many players have been brought in and they bring their different styles of play with them. That makes the league very strong and interesting to watch.”

Tite has been described in Brazil as more of a European-style coach because of his willingness to build a team from strong defensive foundations. He insisted, however, that he is not a dogmatist but a pragmatist, and claimed a former Manchester United manager was of the same mind.

“Firstly, what I like to do is analyse performance not the result. As Sir Alex Ferguson wrote in one of his books, I believe, I try to control the variables. If we can do that then we can gain good results. You can play well and lose or you can play badly and win. These big teams know how to play in different styles and I count England in that. We’re going to go out and do our best to be us tomorrow.”