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Marc Lim
Friday, Jun 27, 2014

Sports

Brazil are back: Paulinho

The Straits Times | Marc Lim | Friday, Jun 27, 2014

WORLD CUP 2014 JUNE 12-JULY 13 BRAZIL

BRAZIL are back to the form that saw them conquer the best sides in the world, says Paulinho.

The Tottenham Hotspur midfielder, who has started every match of their World Cup Finals campaign so far, told The Straits Times on Monday: "Yeah, it's very important for us, because we work this time for the big win."

He was speaking after his team, who had been unconvincing thus far, strolled to a 4-1 win over Cameroon, a result that sealed top spot in Group A and booked them a date with Chile in the last 16.

"Now we go to next game with more confidence. And that's why it's important for us," Paulinho, a key member of the team that saw off the likes of Spain, Uruguay and Italy to win last year's Confederations Cup, added.

"I think that Brazil today, we played well, we played like (the) Confederations Cup. That's why we need this, play like that and win the big games."

Although seven goals from three matches, with only two conceded, is not a bad group-stage record, the hosts and one of the favourites to win the World Cup have struggled to find the consistency of title contenders.

They had to come back from a goal down in their opening match against Croatia before winning 3-1 and failed to find the net against Mexico, settling for a 0-0 draw.

Against Cameroon, they were made to work hard against a side who were already eliminated.

Joel Matip pulled Cameroon level after a smart Neymar finish and the Africans came close to claiming a shock lead on a few occasions.

But a brilliant solo goal by Neymar, in which he danced past three defenders to fire home, and strikes from Fred and Fernandinho helped them to the somewhat flattering result.

It is no wonder Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has demanded the team cut out mistakes - which a strong Chile will punish.

"We are almost at the ideal level and it is important to be at that level going into the knockout rounds," said Scolari, 65, who is hoping to lead Brazil to World Cup glory as he did in 2002.

"Now we need to commit fewer mistakes. In the group stage, you can get away with slipping up once as long as you win your other two matches. Now you can't afford to, because one goal can decide a match."

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