By Rodrigo Viga Gaier
RIO DE JANEIRO, July 26 (Reuters) – Brazil’s resounding Confederations Cup victory must not lull Brazilians into thinking their team is better than Spain or Germany, according to technical coordinator Carlos Alberto Parreira.
Brazil, who will host the World Cup next year, are only at the team-building stage despite crushing world champions Spain 3-0 in the Confederations Cup final at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on July 30, he said.
“There’s still a long way to go to get to 100 percent. Brazil are not the best team in the world. The best are still Spain and Germany but we’re getting closer,” Parreira told Reuters in an interview after meeting Pope Francis.
Spain are world and European champions while second-ranked Germany can pick the bulk of their side from Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund who met in the Champions League final in May with the Bavarians victorious.
Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Brazil did not look convincing after poor results in friendlies going into the tournament in June but impressed with steadily improving performances.
“We regained the trust of the fans and our own confidence. We have a platform for the World Cup,” said Parreira, who steered Brazil to their fourth world crown in 1994 with Scolari adding a record fifth in 2002.
Parreira and a number of other sports personalities met the Pope, who is in Brazil, the country with the largest number of Catholics in the world, on his first tour abroad since his election in March.
He said he told the Argentine-born Pope, who will preside over World Youth Day in Brazil, that he prayed the Brazil team would meet arch rivals Argentina in an all-South American final at the Maracana next year.
“We’re going to pray and I think seriously about that. A South American final would be very good. They also have a very good team and the world’s best player … It’s always nice to play against them,” Parreira said, referring to Lionel Messi.
Asked if Brazil ran the risk the Pope might give his blessing to Argentina in a hypothetical final, Parreira joked: “Isn’t God Brazilian? Then we’ve got no problem. It’s a question of hierarchy.”
(Writing by Rex Gowar in London; Editing by Sonia Oxley)