RIO DE JANEIRO: The purists are going to have to look elsewhere at the World Cup because Brazil are mounting their challenge for a record sixth title with a game based on rock-solid defence, counterattacks and set pieces.
The style developed during nearly four years of coach Dunga’s leadership has proved brutally effective, with the team topping the 10-team South American qualifying group for the World Cup. It is almost as far removed from Brazil’s original game of long, almost languid build-ups followed by quick bursts of attack as it is possible to get.
“Brazil, which has always been the country of attacking football and pressure, is now the country of defence and a powerful counter-attack,” wrote former Brazil striker Tostao after a 4-0 win in Uruguay in a World Cup qualifier.
“That Brazilian football which is admired all around the world for its touch, for exchanging passes and dominating the game, no longer exists. Now, it’s a game of tough marking and counter-attacks – often brilliantly carried out.”
The Dunga Revolution
Dunga has packed his squad for South Africa with defensive midfielders, leaving out striker Adriano and former World Player of the Year Ronaldinho and ignoring pressure to call up youngsters Paulo Henrique Ganso and Neymar.
Brazil players are among the biggest and most powerful in the world, the team featuring strapping figures such as defenders Maicon, Lucio and Luisao, midfielders Felipe Melo and Julio Baptista and striker Luis Fabiano.
Maicon, in particular, can be a terrifying sight for opponents as he charges down the right and Dunga’s team are also a formidable prospect at set pieces. And even when opponents do create chances, they find their way blocked by Julio Cesar, one of the world’s top goalkeepers.
On the other hand, Brazil have immense difficulty when faced with opponents who pack their defences, and they were held to goalless draws during the qualifying campaign. On those occasions, Dunga’s tactics were found wanting as he failed to add spice to his starting lineup, just bringing on yet another strapping forward or midfielder.
The fans have grudgingly accepted the new philosophy while it brings success but, if it fails, Dunga will not be forgiven in a hurry.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2010.
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