“Arab teams have a very strong European influence,” Tite said. “The basic system is with two lines of four and two attackers, one of them coming back to recompose the midfield. They are teams that compact well and occupy spaces intelligently to defend. In Al-Ain and Al-Wahda I learned to play with these two lines of four and two attackers because it is the predominant system with this European influence.”
His experience coaching in the Gulf may afford him a more astute view of football in the region, but it is unlikely to be required in Russia — Brazil and Saudi Arabia can only meet in the semi-finals.
It’s a similar story with Egypt, who were also drawn in Group A alongside Arab neighbors Saudi Arabia. Tite faced Al-Ahly in 2012 when he led Corinthians to victory at the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan. His side won 1-0, but his overriding memory was of a solid, well-drilled outfit. “I knew more about Egyptian football in 2012 when I faced Al-Ahly,” he said. “They were a team that gave us a lot of difficulty. But the Egypt national team has evolved a lot, with some high-level professionals playing in Europe. They also have the tactical part very well crafted.”