Brazil stepping up World Cup plans

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Brazil coach Tite has warned his players not to take friendlies against Japan and England lightly as they step up their preparations for next year's FIFA World Cup.

Having qualified in impressive fashion, topping the CONMEBOL section by 10 points with just one loss in 18 group games, Brazil is seen as one of the favourites for the title in Russia.

The star-studded squad is in Lille for Saturday's (AEDT) fixture against Japan at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, with the match kicking off at midday local time.

Although Tite is likely to experiment with his starting XI, which will be captained by Chelsea winger Willian, he has attempted to motivate the group by telling it to view its upcoming matches as competitive outings.

"I finished [training] with an exercise of imagination. We imagine now that we are at the World Cup," Tite said.

"Tomorrow we have to simulate a World Cup match, as these are two teams that are at the World Cup.

"This is preparation; I do not like to test. This is a new stage of preparation.

"Performances at this stage of our preparation are critical. A performance of excellence is my requirement at this new stage."

Despite facing an opponent without leading names Shinji Kagawa, Shinji Okazaki and Keisuke Honda, Tite expects a tough challenge against a Japan team that has also qualified for Russia 2018.

"It changes the characteristic of the games that we had in South America," he added.

After playing on French soil, Brazil will make the short trip to England to face Gareth Southgate's injury-depleted squad at Wembley on Wednesday (AEDT).


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