Brazil has indeed turned over a new leaf under coach Dunga. No one can ever forget the World Cup debacle, but for Dunga to turn that frown upside down so quickly has been nothing but amazing. Since that 3-0 loss to Netherlands, Brazil has been on an unbeaten run of 5 matches and the most important aspect of these 5 victories was that all of them were clean sheets. An impressive achievement indeed considering the defensive frailties that were on display during the biggest showcase earlier this year.

One of the biggest decisions that Dunga undertook at the very onset of his second regime was to install Neymar as the captain, thereby displacing long-standing Thiago Silva. The fact that Silva spent most of the season till now out through injury did not help his prospects at all. However, he has returned to the Brazil fold for now, and although he was an unused substitute in the last match against Turkey, it can be expected that he will regain his spot soon enough. When all is said and done, it still needs to be pointed out that captaincy is a different cup of tea altogether, and even though Neymar has not lost a game as captain, it was due to his skills as a footballer, and not as a captain. Even though Silva supported Dungaai??i??s philosophy of having a new leader to usher in a different era, the real test will begin when Brazil will face a side where goals will be extremely hard to come by. Neymar can be marked out of the game, even can be maimed or injured ai??i?? as was seen during the World Cup; but Silva offers a much different set of skills which a forward simply cannot.

The absence of Silva has seen the rise of two players, one for the national and the other for his club side. Coincidentally, it was a Brazilian who usurped him on both occasions. For Brazil, Miranda of AtlAi??tico Madrid came in and for PSG, it was the young Marquinhos. While both have performed admirably in the absence of Silva, his return is bound to raise questions for both Dunga and Blanc. How do they bench players who have simply excelled and continue to sparkle?

Dunga has remodeled the Brazilian defense ever since he came in. Two of Brazilai??i??s first-team players found time on the pitch hard toBrazil come by and they included Marcelo at left back and Dani Alves at right back. Replacing them were Felipe Luis and Danilo, both players who focus more on the defense rather than solely on attack. Granted that even though both Marcelo and Dani Alves are attacking fullbacks, most of the time they are found on or near the opponentai??i??s penalty box rather than on the flanks. This creates a needless issue of Brazil finding less men to defend with. As has been seen in the past, it often falls to the central defensive midfielders to cover those flanks, thereby stretching the formation and hence, losing the battle over position.

Another player, who was widely ridiculed following the 7-0 drubbing at the hands of Germany has risen from the ashes and now he is one of the key players in the first team. David Luiz was discussed in the media during the World Cup not only for his performances on the field, but mainly for his mega-million dollar transfer to PSG from Chelsea. Many, nay most of the spectators, pundits and commentators branded him a failure and ridiculed PSG for spending so much on him. However, it was more due to his skills than PSGai??i??s foresight that Luiz is once more in the headlines ai??i?? and this time for all the right reasons. He has been a rock at the back for Brazil and although he had to play with different partners for both club and country, his form never dipped across any of the competitions.

During all these transitions, removals and upheavals, there has been one individual who has shone brightest. And that is none other than Neymar. In only these five matches, Neymar has scored as many as 7 goals, with his best haul coming from the match against Japan, where he scored all of Brazil’s four goals. It would be too soon to say whether Neymar has been a successful captain because the matches where he has failed to score are the ones where he was tightly marked. It goes without saying that Columbia, Ecuador and Argentina pose a far greater threat that Japan and Turkey and Neymar needs to perform at this level for quite some time to take the pressure of captaincy off his young shoulders.

Dunga has not put a foot wrong in his second tenure so far and once he handles the issue of captaincy, more success can be expected from Brazilai??i??s 1994 World Cup winning captain.

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