Dunga Makes Encouraging Changes in 1st Brazil Squad Announcement

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Dunga Makes Encouraging Changes in 1st Brazil Squad Announcement
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

It is, of course, very early days, but the initial indications from Dunga's first call-up for the Brazilian national team were positive and encouraging. With only 10 players surviving from the World Cup debacle, his squad selection sets down a clear vision for the future, for his players as well as the media and public.

Dunga's opening tests take place in exactly two weeks. Brazil travel to the USA to take on Colombia, on September 5 in Miami, and Ecuador, four days later, in New Jersey.

On paper, significant changes have been made, with six players from the Campeonato Brasileiro making the cut, and three receiving their first-ever call-up. Everton Ribeiro, Ricardo Goulart and Gil have earned their chance at national level and should be given game time over the two friendlies.

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Cruzeiro's Everton Ribeiro has earned a first Brazil call-up.

But now, those personnel alterations need to be translated into a playing philosophy. At his press conference on Tuesday morning, Dunga made it clear that performance on the pitch would be more important than age, which goes some way to explaining the absences of Daniel Alves and Marcelo. The full-backs were two of the more disappointing players at the World Cup.

The Selecao squad is representative of one of football's oldest cliches: That much sought-after blend of youth and experience. The likes of David Luiz, Maicon, Luiz Gustavo and Neymar will be expected to lead the recently arrived Rafael Cabral, Everton Ribeiro, Gil and Ricardo Goulart through the rigours of representing the most successful country in world football.

Without doubt, Dunga's biggest statement was in attack. The new coach has not called up any forward who could feasibly be described as an out-and-out No. 9. In a far cry from a Scolari Selecao, there will be no target man in the new-look Brazil.

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Diego Tardelli is capable of playing as a No. 9, but has been operating down the flanks for club Atletico Mineiro.

Diego Tardelli and Ricardo Goulart are capable of playing that position, but neither would call it their strength. For the last two seasons Tardelli has been used down the flanks by Atletico Mineiro, whilst Goulart operates for Cruzeiro almost as a No. 10, floating in the middle and surging forward when the side attacks.

The squad is packed with flexibility, of players capable of blurring the lines between midfield and attack. One No. 10 finally given a chance is Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho.

Completely ignored by Luiz Felipe Scolari, there were several in the former Vasco player's corner urging Felipao to give the 21-year-old a World Cup berth.

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Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho has received a first call-up since 2010.

In total, the new boss has called up eight players capable of operating between midfield and attack. Previously seen as rivals for the same position, Oscar and Coutinho could well be given the opportunity to play alongside each other.

But regardless of who has come and gone, the craque remains the same. Never mind shape and formation, the offence will remain to be built around Neymar.

In the same way that Menezes used the experience of Ronaldinho or Kaka to lead a floating quartet in a 4-2-4, Neymar can perform the same role in a strikerless Selecao.

Whether Dunga will have the courage to stick with his intentions should results begin to go against the team is another story.

But it is of vital importance to remember that nothing revolutionary is going to happen in the next two games. Brazil come up against a Colombia side who matched them in the World Cup quarter-final, and this time they will boast a fully fit Radamel Falcao amongst their numbers.

Ecuador are now a nation taken seriously in this corner of the world, and whilst it will be of importance for Dunga to get off to a positive start against his fellow South Americans, there are no prizes for winning friendlies.

Brazil have gone back to the drawing board and patience must be afforded to Dunga, in a way it was cruelly denied Menezes, if he really is to transform the outlook of the national side.

Tuesday's announcement showed Dunga's intentions. September 5, at the Sun Life Stadium, will be the dawning of a new chapter.

 

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