Scolari happy with Brazil's improvement in Confederations Cup

Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari converses with Neymar during a Brazil training session.
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) -- Luiz Felipe Scolari says it will be hard to stop Brazil if the team keeps improving at this pace.

It wasn't just the victory in the Confederations Cup opener that pleased Scolari on Saturday. He said he was thrilled to see his team take another huge leap forward.

Brazil earned a convincing 3-0 win over Japan in Brasilia, getting off to a good start in the World Cup warm-up tournament.

In addition to the result, Scolari said what he liked most was that the team had one of its best performances so far under his command.

"I liked the team's great tactical evolution,'' he said. "The team was well positioned from the beginning. If the players accept this philosophy in all matches, we are capable of beating any opponent.''

Scolari has been trying to instill his style in the national team after taking over from Mano Menezes in December. He said Brazil needs to re-learn how to play as a team before its talented players can start excelling.

Brazil won only one of the first six matches under Scolari's command this year, but it defeated France 3-0 in its final warm-up before the Confederations Cup and then easily got past Japan on Saturday at the National Stadium.

"We definitely improved,'' said Scolari, who gave Brazil the 2002 World Cup title in South Korea and Japan. "It's not perfect yet, but if we keep improving tactically, we have the condition to go to the final and win the Confederations Cup.''

Neymar scored just three minutes into the match on Saturday, then Paulinho and Jo netted a goal each in the second half to seal Brazil's victory against the Japanese in the nation's capital.

"The team is gaining more confidence, and when that happens, your chances of winning increase significantly,'' said the coach, who for the first time since his return has had two full weeks to work with the group.

Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni said he has been impressed with Brazil's tactical improvement recently.

"Brazil has improved as a team,'' the Italian coach said. "It's not only about the talent of the players.''

The Brazilian squad practiced in Brasilia on Sunday before traveling to Fortaleza, where it will play Mexico on Wednesday in its second match in Group A of the eight-team tournament among continental champions. Mexico lost 2-1 to Italy on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro.

Neymar was substituted in the 74th minute on Saturday after being hit on the back, but he practiced normally with the rest of the squad in Brasilia. The player and Brazil doctor Jose Luiz Runco said that the injury was not a concern.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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