RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — After a dismal performance in a 0-0 draw against Venezuela, the blame is falling squarely on the shoulders of Brazil coach Tite.
The hosts were booed in their opening Copa America match, but still pulled off a 3-0 win over Bolivia. They were booed again on Tuesday.
"The fans want to translate the superiority into goals. (Boos) are understandable," Tite said. "We had a lot of possession, but we were not effective."
Tite has struggled to make his substitutions work, and the match against Venezuela at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador was no exception.
Needing a goal to win the game and secure a spot in the knockout stage, Tite brought on defensive midfielder Fernandinho for defensive midfielder Casemiro in the 57th minute — a like-for-like change at the back when something was needed up front.
"What?" gasped TV Globo commentator Galvao Bueno when the change was made.
In the 71st minute, Tite finally brought on a forward, left winger Everton. His sharp dribbles and passes were trouble for the Venezuelan defense, but they didn't lead to any goals.
Brazil, however, did have two goals reversed by video review because of offside calls, one by Gabriel Jesus early in the second half and another by Philippe Coutinho near the end of the match.
"We tried from the start. It was a tough game, on a tough field that was very dry," said Coutinho, who scored two in the opener. "But there is no excuse. We need to work toward the next match."
Tuesday's match marked the first time Brazil has failed to score at home since the third-place match of the 2014 World Cup, which ended in a 3-0 loss to the Netherlands.
The criticism of Tite's conservativism is not new. When he lost Neymar to a right ankle injury shortly before the Copa America, many expected him to bring in a player like Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior or Tottenham forward Lucas Moura. Instead, the Brazil coach went with Chelsea forward Willian.
Tite has faced criticism about his game management since the team's 2-1 loss to Belgium in last year's World Cup quarterfinals, when he admittedly took too long to make a key substitution.
Paulinho, ineffective in that match, was only replaced by Renato Augusto in the 73rd minute. The substitute scored Brazil's lone goal three minutes later and almost scored an equalizer.
Brazilian soccer confederation president Rogerio Caboclo has already promised that Tite will remain on the job until the 2022 World Cup no matter what happens in the South American competition.
Whether that holds true remains to be seen.
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