In Brief

Scolari lashes out as Brazil adapt to ‘underdog’ status

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari vents his anger at reporters ahead of Colombia clash

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari told reporters to "go to hell" during a tense press conference on the eve of his side’s quarter-final clash with Colombia.

The World Cup hosts find themselves in the strange predicament of being slight underdogs for the match after their less than impressive performances to date. Only the underside of the crossbar kept them in the competition in last week's Last 16 tie with Chile in which Mauricio Pinilla’s thumping shot rattled the bar in the dying moments of extra-time.

Brazil had goalkeeper Julio Cesar to thank for seeing them through the penalty shoot-out but the fact remains this generation of Samba Boys is a pale imitation of previous tournaments.

Colombia, on the other hand, have lit up the World Cup and in 22-year-old striker James Rodriguez they have the tournament’s top scorer. His five goals included a wondrous effort in their 2-0 defeat of Uruguay in the last round.

The pressure is therefore building on Brazil ahead of Friday night’s clash in Fortaleza. The 65-year-old Scolari responded angrily when some reporters questioned why they had been barred from attending the press briefing earlier in the week. "If you don’t like it, go to hell," growled the man who led Brazil to World Cup glory in the 2002 tournament.

Scolari believes that "Brazil continue to have one hand on the trophy", and said that the team "were going on to the fifth step and there are seven steps."

The Brazil coach, who appears to be more confident than the press that his team will beat Colombia, was also quizzed on his extensive use of sports psychologist Regina Brandao, a visitor to the Brazilian training camp following their nervy win over Chile. "She will come again on Sunday and Monday," said Scolari,’ who has no intention of dropping her. "I admire psychologists. She has participated in a nice way. That’s it. The players love to talk. She isn’t even paid to do this."

Brazil captain Thiago Silva also came under scrutiny during the press conference with some  journalists questioning whether he had the composure to skipper his country through the world’s most important football tournament. Silva was seen crying during the penalty shoot-out, but the Paris Saint-German defender retorted: "'I don’t care what people think because no one knows me. I just think about my job. This is the way I am. I am emotional and it’s a natural thing for a human being to be emotional."

The last time Brazil lost a competitive match on home soil was a 3-1 defeat to Peru in the 1975 Copa America semi-final, and it’s 12 years since they were beaten in Brazil (a friendly against Paraguay). Colombia pose a serious threat to that record but Scolari is confident his team will come good when it counts. "Our population, our supporters, don’t expect any different," he said.

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