Brazil look unbeatable but have they peaked too soon?

September 7, 2009

Ten wins in a row and unbeaten for eighteen games. The run includes 2-0 and 3-0 wins over Italy, 4-0 wins in Uruguay and Venezuela, 3-0 in Chile and, of course, Saturday’s 3-1 demolition of Argentina, the first time Brazil’s arch-rivals have lost at home for 16 years. Nothing, it seems, can stand in the way of Dunga’s Brazil and and a sixth world title.

There’s only one small problem: everyone was saying the same about Carlos Alberto Parreira’s team four years ago after they won the Confederations Cup with a 4-1 win over Argentina in the final. Like Dunga’s team, they were Copa America champions at the time and their so-called Magic Quarter of Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka and Adriano looked unstoppable.

Instead, Brazil relaxed. They took the Confederations Cup too seriously, forgetting that the Argentine side they had beaten was a second-string line-up. Their pre-World Cup training camp in the small Swiss village of Weggis had a carnival atmosphere. Five thousand paying spectators packed a specially constructed arena to watch every single training session. A subdued World Cup campaign ended with a 1-0 defeat to France in the quarter-finals. 

This time, the Brazilian confederation has vowed not to repeat the mistakes. Dunga, who shuns celebrity status for both himself and his players, is probably the last coach in the world who would accept such a set-up. But there are other things which could go wrong.

Brazil are heavily dependant on striker Luis Fabiano and goalkeeper Julio Cesar and a loss of form for either player would seriously weaken them.

Luis Fabiano has scored five goals at the Confederations Cup and nine in the World Cup qualifiers despite playing in only nine of their 15 games. They have looked fairly toothless when he has been absent .Julio Cesar has been in inspired form and has often made the difference.

Luck also comes into it and Brazil have been getting all the breaks recently. Their match away to Ecuador in March last June was an extraordinarily one-sided affair in which the hosts should have been several goals to the good by halftime. Instead, Brazil somehow sneaked a 1-1 draw.

Brazil again found themselves under the cosh in Uruguay, yet managed to go in 2-0 ahead at halftime thanks to some more heroics from Julio Cesar and a blunder from his opposite number Sebastian Viera. It was a similar story on Saturday when Argentina did all the attacking but Brazil led 2-0 at halftime. And we must not forget the farcical penalty which gave them a 4-3 win over Egypt at the Confederations Cup.

Brazil’s World Cup opponents are less likely to play into their hands than their South American neighbours.

Dunga has turned Brazil into a counter-attacking outfit who are at their most comfortable away from home against teams who come out and take the initiative.

Argentina, who have descended into chaos under the leadership of Diego Maradona, played straight into Dunga’s hands as they poured forward in Rosario and left gaping holes at the back.

World Cup opponents are likely to be play more like Colombia and Bolivia, who both held on for goalless draws in Rio de Janeiro as they exposed Brazil’s lack of ideas when faced with packed defences.

PHOTO: Brazil players salute their supporters at the end of the World Cup qualifying win over Argentina in Rosario, September 5, 2009 REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian


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Your nit-picking of individual matches runs a little adrift of fact. Those “close” away games that you described weren’t inspirational, but they are perfect for Dunga, who prefers the controlled counter-attacking style. Brazil takes advantage of overzealous offenses. Last summer, the selecao weren’t in nearly the same shape as this year, while Dunga continued trying to impose his philosophy on the players.

Of course, Brazil has traditionally struggled against really conservative teams that pack the box (Italy for one) but what really must be said about this team is that they continue to persevere in the face of adversity. Unlike 2006, everyone looks EXCITED to be playing together, and willing to compromise for the sake of victory. And believe me, most people in Brazil love Dunga despite what the media may try to conjure up.

Posted by Kyle | Report as abusive

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Very good article but I do not think Dunga will fall for what Parreira did in 06. It is going to difficult but with a little luck then can go all the way in WC in South Africa. This Brazilian team is much more compact than the 06 team and also their are no old men on the team such as Roberto Carlos and cafu which is the principal reason why they lost in 06. It is going to be difficult but they can win it

Posted by Josimars | Report as abusive

Woeful Italy wont progress far in June on current form and Argentina, France and Portugal might not even be there. Germany do not have the class to reach another lucky final while England have so much baggage it’s doubtful whether even Capello can make them real contenders despite instilling a ‘winning mentality’.
That leaves Spain as Brazil’s only rivals…

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

A colleague just screamed Holland at me. I’m not so sure

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

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Technically speaking, Brazil have been the best team for many years, however as everybody knows good individual players do not always make the best team.

“Argentina played straight into Dunga’s hands as they poured forward in Rosario and left gaping holes at the back”

Did you watch the game? Do you think you are prophetic because you are not 100% on the Brazil band wagon?

You know nothing about soccer and you are firmly in the “lala for Brazil” camp if you think that Brazil drew up Saturday’s game as it unfolded. They were great in defense, but there were being chipped away at (even after the two goals).

They scored two goals off of dead ball situations. This is not the counter attack strategy you are talking about. Sure their third goal was a beautiful counter attack, but this was after Argentina had changed in the second half to a new strategy: 4-3-3.

Admit it – you either know nothing about soccer, are a closet Brazil fan, or didn’t watch the game.

Posted by Lucho | Report as abusive

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I felt the same as what LUCHO has posted above. I just checked out his reply. Had a feeling something was gonna give….