2010 FIFA World Cup: Dunga's Tactics Can Bring Brazil More Success

Mary O'SheaSenior Writer IJune 29, 2010

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 28:  Carlos Dunga head coach of Brazil looks thoughtful ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between Brazil and Chile at Ellis Park Stadium on June 28, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Four games in, and Brazil's football team are in familiar territory, deep in the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup.

Emerging from Group G—the so-called "Group of Death"—as winners, Brazil has been largely untroubled to date.

In the last number of years, football fans around the world have been introduced to a Brazilian side removed from their national stereotype, all thanks to Dunga, who was installed as coach in 2006.

Despite winning Copa America, Olympic bronze, and the Confederations Cup, Dunga's style has been met with large indifference in his homeland.

While Brazilian teams down through the ages were built around the concept of "if you score one, we'll score two," Dunga has molded his team into a more defensive, counter-attacking unit.

The change of style seems to fit well with Dunga. Despite captaining his side to victory in 1994, he was always viewed as more a "water-carrier"-type player compared to his flashier teammates.

Just as Dunga did as a player, his Brazilian team favour the physical and not giving anything away at the back over the spectacular, expansive play the world is so used to getting with Brazil.

Dunga has taken the spectacular and expansive, and changed it to the disciplined. However, it is unfair to the coach to claim he has taken away all of Brazil's flair, as seems to be the claim in his home country and further afield.

What Dunga has done is make it harder to score against Brazil; he hasn't made it any easier for the opposition to stop Brazil scoring.

Unlike other coaches at the World Cup—Raymond Domenech, Fabio Capello—Dunga is using what he has at his disposal to great effect.

In Julio Cesar, he has one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

At right back he has a player so complete, it should be almost illegal. Inter Milan's Maicon has been a revelation over the last couple of seasons. He is one of the few wing backs who can defend and attack in equal measure.

Built like a center back but with the speed of a winger, Maicon is every opposition's worst nightmare. Add to that an eye for a pass and a habit of scoring goals, and Dunga's strategy gets the best of Maicon.

In the center, he has the solid partnership of Juan and Lucio. Lucio must surely be the best center back in world football at the moment. As with Maicon, he can defend and attack, his ball control belying his height.

Left back is somewhat less straightforward for Dunga. Lyon's Michel Bastos slots in there, but he is more adept in midfield. However, this rarely becomes a problem given the central midfield players Dunga opts to start.

In most games, Gilberto Silva and Felipe Melo start in the middle for the Seleção. Both players tend to sit in midfield, protecting the back four and/or slotting in to defence when any one of the four defenders venture up field in attack.

While this is a more measured Brazil than history has known, it is also as—if not more—effective.

Silva and Melo also afford the attacking players more freedom to do what they do best.

Winning the ball in midfield or gathering it from the back four, Silva/Melo make a simple pass to Kaka or Robinho, who are on their way to shoot themselves or set up Luis Fabiano.

What Dunga has figured is that if he can keep goals out at the Brazilian end, in Robinho, Kaka, Luis Fabiano, Elano, and Nilmar, he has players who can score at the other end.

Brazil might not win in the manner that they used to, but they still win.

Considering the defensive players at his disposal, it would be madness to play any other why.

Yes, they might not be as exciting as Brazilian teams of old, but they are still more entertaining than 90 percent of the teams left in the World Cup.

They may have been measured in their approach against Chile, probing and waiting for opportunities to come their way, but was their anything "un-Brazilian" in any of the three goals they scored?

When it comes to Brazil, they want to play well. They want to do the spectacular; they want to entertain.

But most of all, they want to win. No matter how aesthetically pleasing the play is, anything less than bringing home that trophy is considered failure in Brazil.

Dunga may have his critics in Brazil, but he well could be holding aloft the golden trophy in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in two weeks' time—if he were to do so, the Brazilians wouldn't party any less.