Brazil Start Road to Recovery Against Colombia in First Test After World Cup

Robbie BlakeleySpecial to Bleacher ReportSeptember 5, 2014

BRASILIA, BRAZIL - JULY 12: (L-R) David Luiz, Fernandinho, Jo and Maicon of Brazil look on after being defeated by the Netherlands 3-0 during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Third Place Playoff match between Brazil and the Netherlands at Estadio Nacional on July 12, 2014 in Brasilia, Brazil.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Slowly but surely wins the race—that is how the moral of the story goes. That is now a philosophy one can apply to Dunga and his post-“Mineiratzen” Brazil side.

On Friday night, the Selecao take to the field for the first time since their aborted World Cup mission. They face a Colombia team who delighted viewers during the FIFA tournament, and boast a recently recruited Old Trafford Gaal-actico, Radamel Falcao, among their number.

But, in their coach, Brazil have a symbol of fighting spirit, a beacon of hope on the long road to redemption, with its termination, one might hope, at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Dunga was cast as a scapegoat of Brazil's elimination at the hands of archrivals Argentina at the 1990 World Cup, when a Claudio Caniggia goal was enough to see them sent home in the round-of-16 phase. Four years later, he was lifting his country's fourth global crown as captain.

Dunga captained Brazil to their fourth win at the 1994 World Cup.
Dunga captained Brazil to their fourth win at the 1994 World Cup.Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

For the time being, the Brazilian brief is a similar one. Just like in 1950, just like in 1982, and just as Dunga was forced to do in 1990, the players must rid themselves of the ghost lurking behind them. Only this time, it follows the most humiliating result in their illustrious history.

Victory against Colombia would be an encouraging step to recovery.

The team trained on Wednesday in the Sun Life Stadium, the stage for Friday's encounter.

For the second successive session, Dunga selected the same players in the first-choice team, and barring any late mishaps, his opening teamsheet is likely to read: Jefferson; Maicon, David Luiz, Miranda, Filipe Luis; Luiz Gustavo, Ramires; Oscar, Willian, Neymar; Diego Tardelli.

However, Tardelli's role, although likely to operate as the most advanced part of the attacking quartet, will be in stark contrast to that of Fred under previous boss Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Diego Tardelli is likely to start against Colombia.
Diego Tardelli is likely to start against Colombia.Buda Mendes/Getty Images

His movement and interaction with those operating alongside him in search of goals should be far more frequent than that of the World Cup No. 9. Far too often, the Fluminense front man cut an isolated and frustrated figure, and at times the hosts appeared to be playing with 10 men, such was Fred's lack of contribution to build-up play.

Yet despite some changes in personnel and a substantial switch of formation, the basis of the side will remain from the Felipao era.

Eight players who were part of the World Cup are expected to start the contest against Colombia. Dunga is treading cautiously as he attempts to introduce a new brand of football to his charges.

How well this group of players responds to their coach's tactical innovations will be one of the key points of interest in Miami.

Of course, it is always pleasant to start a new spell with a victory, but the major changes that Dunga is beginning to implement, if Brazil are to match the world's current greatest super powers, is the long-term and principal focus of the day.

There are no prizes for winning bragging rights in a post-tournament kickabout. Whatever happens against Colombia is neither the true end result nor the cause for great celebration.

In all likelihood, the ghost of that semi-final against Germany will never disappear completely. The result, just like Uruguay's 2-1 win at the Maracana proved in 1950, was too shocking and too shameful to simply be swept under the carpet with the arrival of a new coach and a few wins.

But that does not mean Brazil cannot move on, or even learn from the most disastrous 90 minutes Brazilian football has ever suffered.

Greater tactical flexibility in attack, open communication between midfield and those pushing forward, less of an onus on the shoulders of Neymar, who is set to be made captain in the absence of Thiago Silva—the lessons to be learned were made abundantly clear on July 8.

Now, for the first time, they can be put into practice.