Captain Neymar's Magic Can't Hide Task at Hand for Brazil Coach Dunga

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor ISeptember 6, 2014

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 05:  Neymar #10 of Brazil dribbles with the ball during an International Soccer friendly against Colombia at Sun Life Stadium on September 5, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Brazil beat Colombia 1-0 in the Sun Life Stadium in Miami on Friday night, with new captain Neymar the difference between the sides in a typically tempestuous all South American clash.

It was this same fixture that ended Neymar's World Cup campaign through injury in July, and while both he and aggressor Juan Camilo Zuniga appeared to bear no animosity for those events, it hadn't softened the approach of both sides.

Indeed, while the referee in question may have added to the confusion with inconsistency in his handling of the game, Colombia ending with 10 men after the sending-off of Juan Cuadrado was indicative of the nature of the friendly.

"It is always good to win, especially with the criticism after the World Cup, some of which was very strong," Goal.com report new head coach of the Selecao, Dunga, as saying post-match.

"This win will help the players to regain their self-esteem and confidence. I told them that they are all here because they are the best and that all their lives they have dreamt of being here. They should not be afraid and just have to go out there and play.”

Go out there and play Brazil did, or at least attempted to. It would be foolish to say that all the side's balance issues were solved, but there were signs of nice movement between the forward players Oscar, Willian, Neymar and Diego Tardelli.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 05:  Falcao #9 of Colombia greets Neymar #10 of Brazil during an International Soccer friendly against Brazil at Sun Life Stadium on September 5, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Indeed, once more it was Oscar who took centre stage for his country in the early stages with a lively display of intelligent attacking midfield play, flitting between the midfield and forward lines at will.

Diego Tardelli, meanwhile, did enough in his outing as a false nine to suggest that he will be handed further opportunities and, but for a debatable offside flag, could have had a goal for his efforts. His pace, following the stodge offered by Fred and Jo, looks to be a real potential asset.

That was the positive and, indeed, it can be said that Brazil overall had the better of the midfield battle. However, it was a match of little genuine quality until the moment Neymar sunk his late free-kick into the top corner.

A new era for Brazil this may be, with a new coach and new lieutenants on the field, but Neymar remains the one truly reliable route to goal the side possesses. The 22-year-old, now expected to command from the front, would be excused for thinking this new era was not so different after all.

That said, at least he would seem able to count upon what appeared an uninspiring but functional defensive side of the team not to leak goals as they did so meekly in that fateful semi-final outing.

Maicon and David Luiz, for better or worse, remain for the time being. However, in Miranda and Filipe Luis, they are joined by two players who are consistently resolute in their defending at club level and should have been more involved under previous management. Colombia found the new unit a frustrating and formidable foe.

Looking ahead to a clash with Ecuador on Tuesday, Dunga added:

We will continue with the same approach. We’ll look at the condition of the players ahead of Tuesday, but we will maintain the overall structure.

We have to improve every day and if we keep repeating the movement then it will become automatic. Tomorrow [we have a day off and we] will stop to think, to look at what went right and where we can improve.

Improvement is now the key. Victory over Colombia is a good start, and there were signs of much-needed solidity, but to reach the top of the world game again, Brazil has a long journey ahead of it.

Oscar must prove that he can be as influential when pressure is really applied and others must provide greater support for Neymar. To move from good to great, Brazil must be able to do more than just hold its ground.

Dunga will offer few surprises. His belief in defensive solidity and counter-attacking play has been a constant in his managerial career and he will certainly not bow to media pressure if times get hard.

He must, though, unlock Brazil's attacking potential in the same way that he inspired the likes of Luis Fabiano and Robinho in the build-up to the 2010 World Cup. Only then will Brazil be able to think about threatening the likes of Argentina, Germany and France once again.

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