Gabriel Jesus was Brazil's saviour but thought Tite's changes were to blame for their struggles in an unconvincing 3-1 victory over the Czech Republic on Tuesday.

Brazil head coach Tite made six amendments to the starting XI that kicked off a surprise 1-1 draw against Panama on Saturday, with only Casemiro, Lucas Paqueta, Philippe Coutinho, Richarlison and Roberto Firmino retaining their places.

The Selecao boss said in the build-up to the game in Prague that he wanted to maintain consistency with his attacking unit despite the drab performance against Panama, but hooked Paqueta after Brazil went into half-time behind following David Pavelka's opener.

Roberto Firmino struck an opportunistic equaliser before Jesus, who replaced Coutinho in the 72nd minute, scored a late double to snatch the win.

"I think we played a good game. It's not easy when there are a lot of changes, we were lacking a bit of coherency, but we are Brazil and we have to overcome such adversity," Jesus told TV Globo.

"We managed to create more in the second half, we were happy and we got the win.

"At times the opposition defended well, which was the case against Panama. We could have created more, attacked more, but I'm used to playing against a five-man backline in England. Panama had six in the second half. It's difficult and we aren't used to that, but we worked on it afterwards.

"Today, in the first half, it's normal for the home team to come out strongly. We conceded a goal, but we managed to focus on what was required and turn it around."

Substitute Gabriel Jesus scored a late double as Brazil came from behind to beat the Czech Republic 3-1 despite an underwhelming performance from the Selecao in Prague on Tuesday.

Tite's team faced strong criticism after being held to a 1-1 draw by Panama in Porto on Saturday and they struggled against a Czech Republic side that went down 5-0 to England in Euro 2020 qualifying on Friday.

David Pavelka put the hosts ahead with his first international goal before half-time, but Roberto Firmino pounced on a mix-up between Theodor Gebre Selassie and Marek Suchy to equalise early in the second half.

Jesus replaced Philippe Coutinho in the 72nd minute and struck twice to help ease the pressure that seemed to be mounting on Tite ahead of a Copa America on home soil.

After a tepid start the first shot on target came in the 22nd minute, with Patrik Schick's deflected free-kick pushed aside by Alisson before Pavelka miscued on the follow-up.

The Czech Republic looked more dangerous and their positivity was rewarded in the 37th minute when Schick helped Lukas Masopust's pass beyond Marquinhos and Pavelka drilled a pinpoint finish into the bottom-left corner.

Brazil equalised four minutes after the restart when Gebre Selassie and Suchy contrived to present Firmino with a golden opportunity he did not pass up.

The Czech Republic lost Darida and Ondrej Celustka to injury - and Jiri Pavlenka did superbly to keep out Coutinho and debutant David Neres, who replaced Richarlison in the 63rd minute.

Neres' direct running and pace caused the hosts problems and he latched onto a throughball from Danilo to tee up Jesus, who converted despite sending a bobbling pass uncomfortably close to the crossbar in the 83rd minute.

Manchester City striker Jesus finished off another clinical move seven minutes later to wrap up a seventh win in eight matches for Brazil.

Argentina bounced back from their shock defeat to Venezuela with a slender 1-0 win over Morocco in a blustery Tangier on Tuesday.

Lionel Scaloni's men were soundly beaten 3-1 by their South American rivals in Madrid on Friday and while they avoided another embarrassment at the Stade Ibn Batouta, they rarely looked like a side ranked 11th in the world.

Lionel Messi, who made his return to international football at the Wanda Metropolitano, did not make the trip to Morocco and his side desperately missed his spark and invention.

The chronic wind was hardly conducive to incisive attacking football, but a moment of rare quality from substitute Angel Correa seven minutes from time sealed the win for Scaloni's side.

Morocco started in positive fashion, Khalid Boutaib firing straight at Esteban Andrada from the edge of the penalty area after 10 minutes.

That was the closest either side came, though, in what was an insipid first half with Argentina's forwards Lautaro Martinez and Paulo Dybala cutting particularly isolated figures.

The busiest man in the opening period by some distance was referee Janny Sikazwe, who dished out four yellow cards after numerous flashpoints between the two sets of players.

Martinez was put out of his misery shortly after the interval, hauled off for Matias Suarez after making just a single successful pass in his 56 minutes on the pitch.

Just when the game looked to be petering out for the most forgettable of goalless draws Atletico Madrid forward Correa sparked into life.

The 24-year-old collected Suarez's pass on the edge of the penalty area, waltzed past Achraf Hakimi and clipped a low drive past Yassine Bounou to secure an undeserved win.

Tite insists he will not allow criticism of his Brazil tenure to affect him as his team look to bounce back against the Czech Republic.

The five-time World Cup winners were surprisingly held to a 1-1 draw against Panama - the country ranked 76th in the world - in Portugal on Saturday.

It was the first time Brazil had failed to win a game since the World Cup in Russia last year, when the Selecao suffered a quarter-final exit at the hands of Belgium.

Tuesday's friendly with the Czech Republic in Prague is Brazil's final friendly before the Copa America and Tite claims he is unfazed by those questioning his methods.

"First of all, all criticism, be it if they have a technical, tactical, physical, emotional aspect...I don't have to put them in context or to be at a defensive position," Tite said at a news conference.

"If they are football ideas, they are points of views, visions, that's normal and natural and we must know how to live with it."

Tite also stressed it was not a case of his players needing to perform against the Czechs to ease the pressure on him.

"Athletes don't play for the coach, they play for the Brazil national team, they play for Brazil," he added.

"When we move things from what it's important, we make mistakes.

"They don't play for the coach nor for status, they play for being at the national squad, because they are proud of being at the national squad, for the pleasure, the satisfaction of being here, of doing what he does professionally.

"And the coach is included in it. But that's a cliche that is false - no player plays for the coach. And that's not a selfish thing - one works for oneself in the first place."

Gerard Pique called for respect throughout Spain after representing Catalonia in a friendly against Venezuela.

Barcelona defender and former Spain international Pique played as Catalonia defeated South American visitors Venezuela 2-1 in Girona on Monday.

The 32-year-old came out of retirement, having ended his Spain career following the 2018 World Cup, to make his 10th appearance for Catalonia – whose fixture against Venezuela did not have official status as they are not recognised by FIFA or UEFA.

There were reports of anti-Spain chants during the match at Estadi Montilivi amid the ongoing tension following the Catalan independence referendum in 2017, which was deemed illegal by the Spanish government and led to violent clashes between police and voters.

Responding to the chants, Pique said post-game: "Respect, above all, but on all sides. In Catalonia we have to preach by example."

Venezuela beat Lionel Messi's Argentina last week but Catalonia were victorious thanks to goals from Bojan Krkic and Javi Puado, who scored the winner with three minutes remaining.

Pique was asked about his decision to quit Spain last year and the veteran insisted he has no regrets.

"The Catalan team requires me one day, I came here to have a good time with my team-mates and it has nothing to do with the Spanish national team," Pique said. "If Luis Enrique calls me, would I come back? It's a decision made and I do not regret it."

Lionel Messi will be in Argentina's Copa America squad regardless of concerns over a lack of playing time with the national team, coach Lionel Scaloni has confirmed.

Messi made his first appearance for Argentina since the 2018 World Cup in a 3-1 friendly defeat to Venezuela in Madrid on Friday but has since returned to Barcelona due to a knock sustained in that game.

Argentina face Morocco in Tangier on Tuesday, with Scaloni revealing that Juventus forward Paulo Dybala will replace Messi in the line-up.

The Morocco friendly is Scaloni's final chance to assess his options before picking his Copa America squad, with Argentina kicking off their campaign against Colombia on June 15.

However, he insisted that Messi can be sure of his place, though the coach noted that Argentina cannot be so dependent on their star man.

"We have decided 80 per cent of the [squad] for the Copa America, we are missing three or four places," Scaloni told a press conference.

"In principle, Messi was at his maximum [against Venezuela], he got very involved in the group and he finished the game.

"We talked about the game, not the future. But it is clear that he will be at the Copa America.

"It's something that we knew could happen in attack, we have to work so that does not happen, that each player is not attracted to Messi and understands that he is one more player that will help win the matches."

Sclaoni confirmed only Gonzalo Montiel, Leandro Paredes and Lautaro Martinez will retain their places in the starting XI against Morocco, who he believes will represent a stern challenge as Argentina look to bounce back from their display against Venezuela.

"Morocco are a great team that posed a lot of problems for Portugal and Spain in the World Cup," he said.

"When I said that the players had to give more [after the defeat to Venezuela], I talked to them and they understood me. If everyone does what they do at their clubs we will be a better team. It went badly but it is better that it goes wrong now so we can avoid repeating it."

Uruguay captain Diego Godin says he retains the same enthusiasm as ever for international football after becoming his country's most-capped player.

Godin's 126th appearance for Uruguay came on Monday as his side beat Thailand 4-0 in the final of the China Cup.

Uruguay did not concede any goals in either of their matches in the mini-tournament, with Godin and his side mostly untested against moderate opposition.

But it was still a memorable occasion for the Atletico Madrid defender, who is linked with joining Inter at the end of the season.

"I continue coming with the same enthusiasm and the same desire as the first day I debuted," Godin said.

"That speaks to the feeling generated by selection for any Uruguayan footballer.

"The feeling for me does not change, the moment I stop feeling that for this shirt I probably do not deserve to be here."

Uruguay will return to action in June with Oscar Tabarez's side drawn in Group C of the Copa America.

Godin and his team-mates open their campaign on June 16 against Ecuador before facing special guests Japan and defending champions Chile.

Argentina are too reliant on Lionel Messi and must improve the players around the Barcelona superstar, says former Real Madrid coach Jorge Valdano.

Messi played for his country for the first time since the World Cup as Argentina took on Venezuela in Madrid last week, yet his side were on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline.

The captain was subsequently ruled out of Tuesday's friendly against Morocco, completing the latest chapter in what has sometimes been a difficult international career.

Messi has often been criticised for failing to replicate his club form as Argentina have lost a series of major finals but Valdano, who won the 1986 World Cup alongside the likes of Diego Maradona, feels too much blame is laid at the forward's door.

"What Argentina needs to improve are those around Messi, not Messi," Valdano told Onda Cero.

"They still expect Messi to do everything on his own that the whole team should be doing.

"Piling responsibility on the best player to resolve everything all of the time doesn't seem the best way of doing things to me."

United States midfielder Weston McKennie suffered a ruptured ankle ligament in the friendly win over Ecuador, his club Schalke have confirmed.

McKennie was stretchered off in the second half of Thursday's 1-0 win in Orlando, although he remained with the USA squad as they travelled to Houston to face Chile.

However, Schalke announced on Monday that the 20-year-old was travelling back to Gelsenkirchen to begin rehabilitation after the extent of his injury was confirmed.

McKennie has made 19 Bundesliga appearances this season, playing a further six matches in the Champions League.

Gregg Berhalter's USA will also be without Tyler Adams against Chile as the RB Leipzig midfielder returned to his club following the Ecuador match.

Goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez also went back to FC Dallas.

Uruguay cruised to a 4-0 defeat of Thailand in the China Cup final on Monday.

Thailand had surprisingly knocked out Fabio Cannavaro's hosts in the semi-finals but found Uruguay a much stronger proposition at Guangxi Sports Center Stadium.

Matias Vecino and Gaston Pereiro scored before the interval to put Oscar Tabarez's side on track for a comfortable victory in Nanning.

Striker Cristhian Stuani added a third after the break to finish as the mini-tournament's top goalscorer, with Maxi Gomez also on target late on to secure the China Cup crown.

Uruguay took an early lead in their 3-0 semi-final success against Uzbekistan and did likewise in the final's sixth minute.

Nicolas Lodeiro set up the opener for Pereiro in that game and he was again the creator of the opening goal, delivering a left-wing corner that Vecino met with a downward header.

Chanathip Songkrasin fired wide at the end of a dangerous run but Uruguay scored a second before half-time, Stuani dribbling around defenders to find space in the left channel before delivering a low cross that Pereiro tapped in from close range.

Siwarak Tedsungnoen saved from Stuani early in the second half but Uruguay extended their lead from the resulting corner, the Girona striker nodding in Giorgian De Arrascaeta's cross.

Uruguay kept pushing for further goals and substitute goalkeeper Chatchai Budprom had to be alert to keep out a powerful low drive from midfielder Lucas Torreira.

Peeradon Chamratsamee forced a save from Fernando Muslera as Thailand produced a late rally, but Gomez's deflected strike added a fourth for Uruguay.

Tabarez's men, who were without injured forwards Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, will face sterner tests in this year's Copa America.

The Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) sought clarity regarding Lionel Messi's injury, having been frustrated to learn that Argentina would be without their star man for Tuesday's friendly.

Messi made his return to the international stage last week, but Argentina were beaten 3-1 by Venezuela in Madrid and the Barcelona star was later revealed to be suffering with a pelvic injury.

That ailment will keep Messi out of Argentina's trip to Tangier, as was confirmed to Morocco in a letter on Saturday.

But having agreed with Argentina that their best team would be on show, the FRMF asked for a further explanation, seemingly seeking to ensure Messi's injury is genuine.

A statement from the federation read: "The FRMF on Saturday received a letter from the agent of the friendly match against Argentina, officially confirming the absence of Lionel Messi.

"According to the same letter, the agent confirmed that the Argentine Football Association said that Messi had been injured in a match against Venezuela on Friday in Madrid, and that he directly joined Barcelona for treatment.

"The FRMF asked for clarification from the match agent, approved by the Argentine Football Federation, after news of Messi's absence from Tuesday's match in Tangier.

"It is worth noting that the FMRF had agreed in the contract organising this friendly match to face Argentina's first team."

Morocco were held to a 0-0 draw by Malawi in an African Nations Cup qualifier on Friday.

Diego Maradona labelled the Argentine Football Association's (AFA) president Claudio Tapia as "inept" and believes the team that lost to Venezuela is not fit to wear the Argentina shirt.

The build-up to Friday's game was dominated by Lionel Messi, who returned from his self-imposed post-World Cup hiatus for the friendly at Atletico Madrid's Wanda Metropolitano.

But Argentina were ultimately well-beaten, as they lost 3-1 to Rafael Dudamel's side despite Messi playing the full game.

Argentina icon Maradona did not spare the players from his criticism, however his ire was mostly directed at those in charge.

"I am very Argentine and I feel like I am part of a different group of coaches and players," he told reporters.

"I know what [Oscar] Ruggeri, [Gabriel] Batistuta, [Claudio] Caniggia are thinking… That this team doesn't deserve the shirt. The ones I named had the shirt tattooed on.

 

"Those who are inept and are running the AFA thought that they would win against Venezuela? Venezuela are a proper team and Argentina came into this through the window, not the front door, because they betrayed and constantly lied to people.

"I'm sorry, but Argentina are not going to win a game. I don't know what Tapia will be, if he will be a maths teacher or what, but he has no idea [what he is doing].

"I'm sorry for the Argentine public, who continue to believe these liars. I'm sorry for the players who have to show their faces when they shouldn't have to.

"It should be the leaders who start doing things right.

"Messi has to ignore the critics. It's not his fault, he's in a bad, disorganised team, a team that always depends on him in every way.

"He's an amazing and extraordinary player, he's got nothing to prove to anyone."

Argentina return to action on Tuesday against Morocco in Tangier, although they will be without the mercurial Messi due to injury.

 

Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro praised the LaLiga giants for signing Brazil defender Eder Militao after "half of Europe wanted him".

Militao, 21, will make the move from Porto in July after Madrid paid a reported €50million for his services.

After playing alongside Militao in Brazil's friendly draw with Panama on Saturday, Casemiro hailed the club for signing the centre-back.

"I've got to congratulate Real Madrid for signing him because half of Europe wanted him," he said, via AS.

"Militao has earned the right to play at the best club in the world and he'll be very welcome next season."

Militao is in just his first campaign at Porto after making a switch from Sao Paulo in August last year.

He has already made 34 appearances in all competitions for the Portuguese giants, who will face Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Tite is open to picking Vinicius Junior for the Copa America, insisting Brazil were missing the Real Madrid teenager's individual skill.

Vinicius, 18, is sidelined with an ankle injury and missed Brazil's 1-1 friendly draw against Panama on Saturday.

The forward may not return until early May, which is a month and a half out from the Copa America.

Tite said Brazil could still use Vinicius, who is uncapped but has starred for his nation at youth levels.

"Taking advantage of the question about the characteristics of Vinicius and our idea of football, it's to have these players that unbalance the rival," he said.

"Players who make individual moves, dribbles, to break the opponent's defence. Vinicius has this characteristic, David Neres has this characteristic."

Brazil face the Czech Republic in another friendly in Prague on Tuesday.

Brazil coach Tite urged supporters to not panic after Saturday's embarrassing 1-1 draw with Panama, adamant a drop in standard is "normal" when young players are given opportunities.

Although Lucas Paqueta gave Brazil a first-half lead with his maiden international goal, Panama hit back after the interval with an equaliser that should not have stood due to scorer Adolfo Machado being offside.

Brazil piled pressure on towards the end, but they failed to find the winner to mask a generally disappointing performance.

Tite is not particularly concerned, however, suggesting he expected a less complete performance having called up several younger players.

"What do we establish at this stage now? We gave young people opportunities," Tite told reporters.

"It was a bad result, and the first half was below our expectations. After half-time there were some adjustments we made.

"At the interval we were able to reorganise and we then went to a level of normality, but the first half was below expectations.

"It's normal. Today we had a defensive line with [Eder] Militao and [Alex] Telles. This is the stage we are in.

"When we go to the Copa America, then I make the best choices. My expectation was to be a bit more creative, but I also have to accept that the midfield is going to make errors.

"I have to make these modifications so that the game can have a creative process with the forwards.

"The supporters are there to listen, to understand, to be annoyed by the result. Normally that's the way it is.

"If I am a fan, I want to win against Panama. We have to understand the context, just as we have to understand the construction of the team.

"We will extend opportunities to the emerging players, because soon I will not have any more chances to do so."

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