Germany World Cup exit proves favourites tag means nothing - Casemiro

SOCHI, Russia -- Brazil midfielder Casemiro pointed to Germany's elimination as proof being favourites counts for nothing ahead of his side's last-16 clash with Mexico, and promised the five-time World Cup champions would give a great performance, win or lose, against El Tri on Monday.

Brazil face Mexico in Samara next week but the Real Madrid midfielder said Tite's men are taking nothing for granted, especially after seeing Germany, holders and joint-favourites before the tournament began, finish bottom of their group.

"This favouritism comes from you," Casemiro told reporters at Brazil's training centre. "The shirt doesn't win you the game. Look at Germany. With all the players they have, all that favouritism, they were still knocked out in the first round."

He added: "We are relaxed about it. All our players are top class, their clubs are always favourites. So we are already accustomed to the pressure, this favouritism you all talk about. We always have respect, tranquility and humility. We have to play football to beat Mexico."

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One of the reasons Brazil are favourites is Mexico's poor record against South American teams in the World Cup finals. In 15 different tournaments before Russia, Mexico only once beat a South American side, overcoming Ecuador 2-1 in 2002.

Another reason is Mexico's unpredictability. The Mexicans provided one of the early shocks of the tournament when they beat Germany 1-0. They followed that with a 2-1 win over South Korea but then were mystifyingly poor against Sweden, who hammered them 3-0.

Whichever Mexico turns up, they will have to get past a team intent on playing great football, regardless of the high stakes the knockout-stage brings.

"One of the conversations I had with Edu [Gaspar, Brazil's technical coordinator] in the qualifiers was the matter of this [elimination] happening, because it's football. At any moment, you can be eliminated," Casemiro said.

"You can play a great game against Mexico and be eliminated. There are many ways to lose. [But] I can say that if we lose this game, it will be with a great performance. The result is another thing. The only thing that [Tite] asks of us is to play a great game. At any moment, the ball can go in. [...] I am sure we will do all we can to play a great game."

Brazil, who welcomed right-back Danilo back to training on Friday, are optimistic that any great performance against Mexico will include Marcelo after the Real Madrid man left the Selecao's final group-stage game against Serbia with back spasms.

Team doctor Rodrigo Lasmar suggested after the match that a bad mattress was to blame for the injury to Brazil's starting left-back -- who did not train with the team on Friday -- but Casemiro, who came from humble upbringings, said he had no problems with his bed before the match.

He said: "They are saying the mattress is bad, it was nice. There's not a lot to say. As kids, many players slept on the floor, without a mattress.

"Each person blames whatever, but I slept on the floor for a long time. Each person has their reasons."

And while he benefitted from a good night's sleep against Serbia, there hasn't been much rest for the former Sao Paulo man who played through the club season's final match this term.

That game, of course, was the Champions League final when he picked up another winner's medal and he laughed off concerns he might be tired or ready for a break.

"I played in the final of the Champions League and I won," he said. "That was a dream. And it's a dream to play in the World Cup. I am the happiest man in the world."

Information from Reuters was used in this report.