Dunga’s Brazil side may not produce the free-flowing, picturesque football which illuminated the World Cup in 1970 and 82 this summer, but their status as perennial favourites is not without merit. The coach, who captained the side to glory in 1994, has built a side in his own image; efficient, powerful and not without flashes of brilliance. Having topped their gruelling qualifying group fairly convincingly, Brazil will hope to carry their ruthless form into the World Cup.
The defence, which conceded just 11 goals in qualifying, will comprise of captain Lucio who has enjoyed a stellar first season at Inter, alongside fellow Serie A stalwart Juan, forming a strong, proven partnership. Lucio’s teammate, the rampaging Maicon continues to keep Dani Alves out of the side and for good reason; his combination of pace, power and control will ensure he is a key component in Brazil’s defence and attack. Behind the defence will stand arguably Brazil’s first ‘world-class’ goalkeeper since Claudio Taffarel in 1998. The outstanding Julio Cesar is another from Inter, providing a sense of continuity amongst the rearguard.
A criticism bandied around in Brazil is that Dunga’s side contains ‘too many piano carriers and not enough piano players’, citing the influx of holding midfielders into the squad, and indeed the starting line-up, as detriment to their chances of winning a sixth World Cup. However, the likes of Felipe Melo who will be keen to brush off a torrid season with Juventus, the experienced Gilberto Silva and energetic Ramires will surely stand Brazil in good stead against powerful opponents Ivory Coast and the ever-skilful Portuguese. This somewhat pragmatic approach in midfield will likely spring their most dangerous weapon and one they used to devastating effect in the qualifiers, the counter attack.
With such a wealth of attacking talent, each with a defined role (Kaka the playmaker, Robinho the threat from the wing and Luis Fabiano the finisher in the box), Brazil have the firepower to score goals almost at will. Having scored an impressive 33 goals in qualifying, they have plenty of threat in reserve, with Nilmar, Alexandre Pato and a rejuvenated Adriano the likely deputies in South Africa…