Brazil's Tite sleepless ahead of Argentina clash

Brazil coach Tite can't sleep before his team's Copa America semifinal clash with archrivals Argentina, but his adversary Lionel Scaloni sounded somewhat relaxed for their meeting on Tuesday at the Mineirao Stadium.

Either the Brazilian leading the Selecao for three years, or the Argentine interim that learns as he goes since August, will be at Sunday's final at the Maracana Stadium to face the winner of Peru and Chile in the other semifinal.

For Brazil, playing without Neymar, a title can mean some stability after the frustration in the World Cup in Russia where they lost to Belgium in the quarterfinals. Argentina hopes to rebuild their team at the same time as they take a shot at winning a first trophy in 26 years, which would also be the first for superstar Lionel Messi with his national team.

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Tite has already played against Argentina three times, with two wins and one loss. But that experience didn't calm him down before the "superclasico."

"I told you I am feeling a lot of anticipation, I couldn't sleep and I won't sleep again [tonight]," Brazil's coach said in a media conference on Monday. "I woke up at 3:15 a.m., started thinking about the match. I have the habit of taking notes, so I did it. That is the reality of coaches, me, Scaloni.

"I will not fake it, do one thing here and then say something different to the athletes," he added. "Of course I have expectations, I am only human."

Tite's first match against Argentina was also the latest encounter between the two in Belo Horizonte. In November 2016, the hosts won 3-0 in World Cup qualifiers in Brazil's first match at the Mineirao since the 7-1 hammering by the Germans in the 2014 World Cup semifinals.

"That win [against Argentina] doesn't give us credit now and that defeat [against Germany] we had here doesn't affect. What matters is the moment," Tite said. "But the anticipation I felt then is the same I feel now."

The troubles of Tite's sleep go beyond Argentina. Brazil's coach has been under criticism for his conservative choices and also for poor performances during the Copa America, except for a 5-0 win against Peru. Lifting the trophy in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday could make his path to the Qatar World Cup in 2022 a little less uncertain.

Scaloni, on the other hand, sounded more relaxed than usual. Asked if he is sleeping as little as Tite, he said: "I do that already, it is not because of our rival."

Argentina's coach also made fun of reporters who hinted Sergio Aguero could leave the team to open way for a more defensive player.

"Aguero will play. I said it because I read I was in doubt, let me leave that clear," Scaloni said.

"The rest you will know tomorrow. Not even Messi is confirmed," Scaloni jokingly said.

The Argentinian coach recognized Brazil is the favorite to win, but believes Tite's lack of sleep comes from the different stakes for the hosts.

"For him it is his home, his people, there are different circumstances. For us it could grant us access to the final," Scaloni said. "If this semifinal were against another team it would be the same. I don't believe beating Brazil is a prize."

Argentina started the Copa America with a 2-0 defeat against Colombia, almost crashed out in the 1-1 draw with Paraguay, but improved in two 2-0 wins against Qatar and Venezuela. Scaloni said fans should expect another good performance against Brazil, while adding his team are desperate to win a trophy for Messi.

"The players love Messi so much that sometimes they say they want to win the tournament just for him," Scaloni said. "The best player in football's history is lacking a trophy with Argentina, but we all want to win, not just him.

"We are used to seeing him score three goals in every game and dribble past five players, but we are asking him to do something different and we are more than happy with the job he is doing.

"He has embraced the workload, he is our flagbearer."

Information from Reuters and the Associated Press was used in this story.