While the re-appointment of Carlos Dunga as Brazil’s head coach raised a few eyebrows, there is no doubt that the former World Cup winning captain knows how to put together a winning team. Dunga’s Brazil surprised many with their playing style and tactical changes during the 2010 World Cup, and although the team lacked the flair and ingenuity of previous Brazil teams, it was a highly organized unit capable to challenging and beating the best.
So what are Dunga’s challenges this time around?
The No. 9 Enigma
Unlike his last stint, Dunga has very few options at centre-forward, an area which Brazil has struggled to find adequate personnel for lately. The situation was further compounded when star striker Diego Costa chose to play for Spain rather his country of birth.
Shakhtar Donetsk striker Luiz Adriano is the favourite to nab the no. 9 jersey for the Selecao, with the Brazilian the current top scorer in the Champions League.
But Dunga has in the past experimented with Neymar in a false nine role, and even Oscar. So it will be interesting to see what setup Dunga goes with for the friendly against Turkey.
Problem Of Plenty At The Back
It might be an ironic comment to make in light of Brazil’s demolition at the hands of Germany in the 2014 World Cup, but this Brazil side is far more stable defensively than its predecessor.
Dunga’s reign has seen the side snatch up four clean sheets, and a shutout is expected against Turkey and Austria too.
Thiago Silva and Miranda have been Dunga’s firstchoice centrebacks, whereas the first-choice fullbacks are Danilo and Filipe Luis.
This could be a good chance for Dunga to experiment, and David Luiz and Marquinhos could be in line to start ahead of Silva and Miranda.
Mario Fernandes and Alex Sandro are the fringe fullbacks in contention for a first-team place in the two friendlies against Turkey and Austria.
Luiz Gustavo has been Dunga’s favoured player in the defensive midfield position, with Manchester City’s Fernandingo his preferred partner.
But with Fernandinho going through a slump in form at City, Chelsea man Ramires is expected to take up the slot beside Gustavo.
Ramires has recently returned from an injury lay-off so it remains to be seen whether or not he is fit to get the nod. If not then Real Madrid’s defensive midfielder Casemiro is sure to get the nod.
Ahead of them is the attacking trident, easily the strongest aspect of Brazil’s lineup. Oscar, Willian and Neymar have been in great form for club and country, and with two defensive midfielders behind them, they have been given the license to roam and the creative burden of the team.
Liverpool attacking midfielder Philippe Coutinho has found himself on the bench in Dunga’s camp, and he could expect to get some gametime in the two friendlies.
These are exciting times in Brazil. The new-look side under Dunga has the onus on it to remove the stigma attached to the one that crashed and burned in the World Cup. And with a tactically flexible and experienced coach, they have every chance of lighting up the stands with their play.