Brazil skipper Thiago Silva said Wednesday he was fit to marshall a stout backline after being rested for Tuesday’s rout of Panama — but warned the World Cup hosts must beware Cameroon frontman Samuel EtoÂ´o when the sides meet June 23.
The match in Brasilia will be the Selecao’s final match in Group A after their event opener against Croatia and a test with Olympic conquerors Mexico.
Brazil will hope to have sufficient points in the bag by then to have set a course for the last 16 but Silva said Eto’o must be kept quiet, even if Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho thinks him a little long in the tooth.
Eto’o had the last laugh when Chelsea edged out the Brazilian’s Paris Saint Germain in the Champions League — and remains a threat.
“He is an experienced player and a handful to deal with. In the Champions League he was not 100 percent but he made his presence felt. He has impressive technical abilities and is lethal in the box. He is the striker who most worries me.”
Eto’o took a potshot last month at Mourinho’s jibe about his age, telling Ivorian press that “the old man was better than the youngsters” and saying he intended to play this World Cup and the next.
Silva meanwhile said Brazil, famed for their attacking flair over the years, intended to be a mean machine at the back at the World Cup and were targeting clean sheets throughout.
“We are a very well-drilled team — particularly at the back,” he told reporters at Brazil’s base camp in Teresopolis outside Rio.
“The days off have done me good,” he added.
“Tests showed a bit of muscle fatigue but yesterday (Tuesday) I felt fine.
“We have played a lot this season and I think that ended up affecting me.”
But he added he was itching for the World Cup to start.
On potentially holding the Cup aloft on July 13 he said: “I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it. You can’t avoid thinking about it. And I think we have a good chance as we are playing at home with a talented team and passionate fans. That motivates you and bolsters confidence.
“The pressure is on, though and we must think about the first game, which is the most important.”
Pressed on the qualities of Brazil’s much-lauded defence and how many goals they might concede, he insisted the target was clear.
“Zero. Our defense is very solid, very strong.”
Silva said he had fought hard to be where he is today, reflecting that nine years ago he spent six months in hospital in Russia while with Dynamo Moscow.
“The first two months I had no visits — those six months were without doubt the worst of my life. But when I look back I see how hard I fought to overcome the situation. I can say I am champion, I am a winner.
“I know nothing is impossible in life.”