Perfect 10 for Brazil but Dunga Has Issues Ahead of Copa America Opener vs. Peru

Robbie Blakeley@@rio_robbieSpecial to Bleacher ReportJune 11, 2015

Brazil's Roberto Firmino celebrates after scoring a goal during a friendly soccer match against Honduras in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Wednesday, June 10, 2015. Brazil is preparing for the Copa America which begins Thursday in Chile. (AP Photo/Nabor Goulart)
Nabor Goulart/Associated Press

And onward they march. In their final friendly prior to the Copa America, Brazil comfortably saw off the Honduras threat at the Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre.

Roberto Firmino, continuing his intriguing battle with Diego Tardelli, got the only goal of the game, as the eight-time Copa America winners recorded their 10th successive victory under Dunga ahead of their tournament opener against Peru this Sunday.

Right now, all looks rosy in the Brazilian garden, and there is precious little that can be demanded above 10 wins from 10. But friendlies can be misleading, and it is worth remembering nine such matches were won in a row before the World Cup kicked off at this time last year.

Again, just like Sunday's win over Mexico, this was far from a vintage Brazilian performance. And again, just like Sunday, boos rang around the stadium as the hosts ground out a victory.

Brazil have now won 10 games in a row, but boos still rang around the Estadio Beira-Rio on Wednesday.
Brazil have now won 10 games in a row, but boos still rang around the Estadio Beira-Rio on Wednesday.Nabor Goulart/Associated Press/Associated Press/Associated Press

Coach Dunga is in the process of casting this side in his own image, and, in case it hasn't been made clear by this last pair of performances, the boss is about as far from the famed Brazilian ideal of how the game should be played as you are likely to get.

Now in his second reign following dismissal after a World Cup quarter-final exit at the hands of the Netherlands in 2010, Dunga was then dismissed as the antithesis of everything Brazilian football should be about. These days, no one in the country can afford to take quite such a drastic stance on the state of the national game.

Even so, this could make painful viewing at times, made the more disappointing by the fact Internacional's stadium was less than half-full for the occasion. Those 10 wins on the bounce have so far not managed to help convince supporters good times are on the way back, and in truth, it is unlikely even victory at this month's tournament could clear all the doubts that have been left in the wake of last summer's World Cup.

Changes were made as Dunga observed the options he will have at his disposal over the coming weeks. Fabinho started at right-back, although this was out of necessity, and Danilo has now been cut from the squad and is likely to be replaced by Barcelona's Daniel Alves, as reported by Globo Esporte (link in Portuguese).

Daniel Alves should replace Danilo in Brazil's Copa America squad.
Daniel Alves should replace Danilo in Brazil's Copa America squad.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Having already lost Oscar, Diego Alves, Marcelo and Luiz Gustavo, this was a blow Dunga could have done without. But the 21-year-old made a solid, if uninspiring, contribution, combining well with Willian in the first half. The Chelsea midfielder was comfortably Brazil's best performer in the opening 45 minutes, scurrying, harrying and probing as he single-handedly tried to pull his team-mates out of second gear.

Casemiro and Douglas Costa were also given opportunities to impress, but they managed to produce little on a night of frustration for players and fans alike. Elias, who started the game against Mexico and had a hand in both goals on that afternoon, must surely be in pole position to start in central midfield alongside Fernandinho on Sunday evening against Peru.

Honduras gave Brazil a bigger challenge than many had expected. Right from the off, they pressed in large numbers high up the pitch, closing down space rapidly. Brazil's defence was given little time to dwell on the ball, and it took the home side 17 minutes to register a shot at goal.

But when the goal did come, just after the half-hour mark, it was a well-worked effort—the swift passing and moving was too much for the Honduras defence to handle. Filipe Luis, and the again-impressive Philippe Coutinho, combined down the left to leave Firmino free to score the game's only goal.

Firmino netted the only goal of the game after 33 minutes.
Firmino netted the only goal of the game after 33 minutes.Nabor Goulart/Associated Press

Neymar and Robinho both came on in the second half, but Brazil defended their lead like underdogs in a cup tie. If this is to be Dunga and his charges' approach during the Copa America, it is likely to leave fans with a bitter taste in their mouths, the memory of why the captain who lifted the World Cup trophy in 1994 is not fondly remembered for his work in charge between 2006 and 2010.

But it is worth remembering that during that period Brazil lifted the 2007 Copa America, the 2009 Confederations Cup and finished top of the World Cup's South American qualifying group. His methods may not be pretty, but Dunga can get the job done.

And going into their first competitive action since the most shameful night in their history, Brazilian football needs a job doing something, not a stylised template leading nowhere.

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