Menezes: Spain are a class above
Brazil coach Mano Menezes has challenged the national team to rise to Spain's level, insisting his side are no longer as technically gifted as the world champions.
Menezes praised the consistency and quality of Vicente del Bosque's men, who have won the last three major tournaments. Despite Brazil's 6-0 win over Iraq on Thursday proving that Brazil is slowly regaining the form that helped them win the 2002 World Cup, Menezes insists there is still more work to do to climb back up the rankings.
"Today, we are not at the level of Spain," he told Marca. "To this day, nobody has been able to maintain their style against Spain. I think they are one of the best, alongside Brazil 1970. The best are those that do something different from others, and Spain have, three times."
Brazil will come under pressure to perform when they host the 2014 World Cup, especially with the expectations that Brazilians have for their national team.
"It is a unique experience, we're living in a hurricane," Menezes said. "I'm building a team in a country where football is a passion, so I'm always between love and hate.
"We are in a race against time to make a team that can compete at the highest level, but I'm optimistic because I think we're improving on target."
Menezes recalled Kaka for the friendly against Iraq and the Real Madrid midfielder repaid the coach's faith with two assists and a goal of his own. Kaka has been on the fringes of the Brazil squad due to a lack of match time in Spain, but Menezes is committed to giving him a chance to prove himself.
"Kaka is still scary, opponents fear him," Menezes said. "I think he can mix well with our new generation, some of whom lack maturity. I will call him as long as he performs well for the national side, even if he doesn't see many minutes in Madrid. But I'm sure he will play in Madrid, you'll see."
One notable absentee from the Brazil side was Alexandre Pato who continues to struggle with injury. Pato is yet to appear for AC Milan in Serie A this season, with niggling injuries providing further setbacks to his career.
Menezes acknowledged the forward's quality, but laments his inability to remain injury free for an extended period.
"In my Brazil Pato has played very little. Despite this, however, he is the second best goalscorer of the team, which means that his quality is quite extraordinary," Menezes said.
"I'm looking forward for his return on the field, but the more important thing is that he heals once and for all. In my opinion his constant physical problems are not due solely to bad luck.
"I talked about Pato with my medical staff and they told me that he has no structural abnormality, so he is not a player destined to be injured. Therefore, we need to understand why there are so many accidents. Pato can return to be great, but this negative moment must end. I still look at him for my national team."