There is no doubt that the Brazil team is carrying a huge burden of expectations from their countrymen. In that respect, hosting of the FIFA World Cup on home soil has been a bit of a handicap since they carry the hopes of millions of Brazilians with them. It has affected Brazilian players more emotionally than playing elsewhere. Experts have opined that lack of control can adversely affect the team’s chances in the World Cup, which is yet to reach the semifinal stage. The buzz in the media over the last few football-free days has been focused on the debate and concern about Brazilian teams’ stark emotions at odd times. Some senior players and other critics have been questioning about the home side’s psychological preparedness, needed to carve out a World Cup win at home.
Legendary footballer Zico has said that a lack of self-control could prove counter-productive to Brazil’s chances. He added that if players get overly emotional, they can easily lose focus. Everyone saw Neymar crying during the playing of Brazil’s national anthem, before the game against Mexico and some of them cried during extra time for no apparent reasons. Technical director Carlos Alberto Parreira found players crying before and after the penalty shoot-out against Chile and said that the national football team should save its tears until after the final in Rio de Janeiro on June 13. He doesn’t deny that playing in front of the home crowd brings the pressure on players but also adds that this aspect should have been factored during team preparations.
Goalkeeper Julio Cesar was seen crying uncontrollably at the end of Brazil’s shoot-out victory over Chile. Anyone, not familiar with the game would have concluded that the guy had ended on the losing side for some fault on his part. But Cesar had a valid reason for his sudden outburst. He explained that his mind was occupied by the guilt of conceding a goal in Brazil’s quarter-final defeat against the Netherlands at South Africa in the 2010 World Cup. In crying openly, he was merely washing away that feeling by earning redemption with his two super penalty saves against the Chileans.
Regardless, it was necessary for Brazil’s players to fortify themselves, as they take on Colombia in the quarterfinal. This is the reason why Felipe Scolari summoned the services of team psychologist Regina Brandao to have a chat with the players. Brandao is an expert on sports psychology and she has worked with Scolari, when he coached Palmeiras in 1998. She also performed the same role, when, as a coach, Scolari led Brazil’s victory in the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. Regina Brandao got into action straightaway and many players feel that her advice is making the difference. Over two days on Monday and Tuesday, Brandao delivered a small lecture in a meeting with all the players and the technical team. She didn’t single out any player or players for one-to-one talk because she thought; it was best for all players to have a common approach towards their game. Belo Horizonte, who scored from the last penalty shot against Chile, looked happy after the psychologist left. He said that his morale has gone up a few notches after listening to the expert. Neymar also expressed similar feelings saying that after the meeting with the psychologist, he felt relaxed and happy. When questioned by the media by her visit at the instance of the Brazil’s coach, Brando downplayed the event saying that her visit was part of the plan. She said that she was in constant touch with players and team management through phone-calls, emails and WhatsApp messages and not much should be read on her meeting with them on Monday and Tuesday. She added that face-to-face physical communication was necessary from time to time.