SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazil’s goalkeeper in the 2002 World Cup has urged national team players to avoid getting caught up in the fan euphoria that is starting to take over the country.
Marcos said that as the home World Cup approaches, anxiety can affect the Brazil players’ performance.
Marcos expects the opening match in a week, against Croatia in Sao Paulo, to be the most difficult one for the national team because it will be hard for players to control their nerves.
He said he was “a lot more relaxed” in the final against Germany in 2002 than he was for the team’s opener against Turkey in the tournament in South Korea and Japan.
After Croatia, Brazil plays Mexico and Cameroon in Group A.
“It’s tough to handle the anxiety for this first match, especially here at home,” Marcos said this week. “You have to find a way not to get caught up in this euphoria from the fans. The World Cup is all people are talking about now.”
He said that although it’s great to have the support of the fans, players have to be careful not to change the way they play because of that.
“The crowd will be loud, giving its support to the team, and the players will want to do everything possible to do well,” Marcos said. “But that can be dangerous, if they just think about trying to score and forget about the game plan, it can open up unwanted spaces on the defense, and it can actually hurt the team.”
Marcos was one of the former players expected to be invited by Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari to talk to the squad during its preparations.
Marcos was key for Brazil in 2002, and made two great saves in the final alone, when Germany was beaten 2-0 for Brazil’s fifth world title.
“I was a lot more nervous the day of the opening match than I was the day of the final,” he said. “In the final I was a lot more relaxed. I already had played several matches and I knew I was playing well. There weren’t a lot of unknowns in my mind by then.”
The 40-year-old Marcos said reserve goalkeeper Victor was in better shape than starter Julio Cesar in this year’s squad, but doesn’t think it’s a mistake to start the veteran.
“Victor has been playing better, there is no doubt, especially because Julio Cesar didn’t play a lot recently,” Marcos said. “But Julio is experienced, and no one has any doubts about his talent. You can’t say it’s wrong to keep him as a starter for the World Cup.”
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