Will Dunga keep a cautious approach or allow Brazil to show their flair?
WE’LL have to wait until next week to know. But three matches for Brazil in 10 days will tell us emphatically whether that old Brazilian magic is about to explode upon World Cup 2010 or whether pragmatism will reign in Dunga’s squad.
You have to say, at this early stage, the latter looks likelier than the former under their former midfielder’s coaching structure.
Yet would structured, tight football based on rock solid defence be enough to entertain and appease the millions of Brazilians used to the samba style football of predecessors? Unlikely, you’d conclude.
Thus, Brazil’s opening matches against North Korea next Tuesday and the game against Ivory Coast five days later, are eagerly anticipated by the watching world.
As for the clash with Portugal in Group G on June 25 in Durban, time will tell.
A population of 192 million waits with bated breath back home to see how Dunga’s men perform.
But so far, Dunga, the man whose name means “Dopey” in Portugese, has extracted from his Brazilian outfit an uncharacteristically mean, parsimonious set of players intent more on defence and keeping out others rather than destroying all comers with brilliance going forward.
Yet would the world really want to see Brazil win this World Cup by keeping it tight at the back and trying to snatch a goal or two on the break?
Trouble is, Dunga has focused on the back four and has assembled a potentially outstanding unit.
Maicon and Lucio, Champions League winners with Inter Milan last month, are the cornerstones of the back four with Barcelona’s Dani Alves another outstanding performer.
Behind them, Julio Cesar was Inter Milan’s goalkeeper in the Champions League success while Roma’s Juan boasts 75 caps and a commensurate wealth of experience.
Further forward, much will depend upon striker Luis Fabiano, Sevilla’s hottest property, and Kaka, who had far from an outstanding season with Real Madrid.
Robinho, who drifted back to Santos from Manchester City leaving most in English football distinctly unimpressed by his attitude and consistency, is erratic and an unknown quantity.
Properly motivated in his own mind, he could catch fire and dazzle and delight. But you wouldn’t want the family silver resting on that hypothesis.
So perhaps for the first time in decades, this is a Brazilian side that looks to have much greater quality in defence than attack.
That undoubtedly explains Dunga’s tactics to date and in fairness to the coach, they succeeded handsomely as Brazil eased assuredly through the qualifying campaign.
Assuming Brazil wins Group G, they would probably meet either Chile or Switzerland for a place in the quarter finals and a likely meeting with Holland.
England could await them in the semi-finals and, if both sides got there, would it not make more sense for Brazil to try and overwhelm Fabio Capello’s men with their trademark genius, fast flowing football rather than opt for a cautious, defensive minded approach? You would have thought that might play into England’s hands.
Betting against Brazil in any World Cup rarely makes much sense; their record is exemplary. But if Dunga opts to ignore their traditional strength based on pace, movement and flow with ball skills to the fore, he could be lessening Brazil’s fear in the minds of opponents. And that would hardly be the smartest thing to do in the world.