When Brazil were dismantled by Germany last year at the World Cup there was a feeling that this was the nadir & things would only get better. But last night after another insipid performance against a work man like Paraguayan side it seemed that the Selecao had sunk to even greater depths.
To get beaten by a world class German side who played football from heaven for half an hour is one thing but to just sit back and allow an average Paraguay side to dump you out at the quarter final stage is simply unforgivable.
Here are 3 thoughts from the game which ended with Paraguay setting up a semi final with Argentina on Tuesday.
This is not Jogo Bonito
When one thinks of Brazil thoughts wander to beautiful girls, the party atmosphere on the beaches & most of all football. It is the land which has given us Pele, Garrincha, Socrates, Ronaldo, et al. and goals such as the one scored by Carlos Alberto in the 1970 World Cup final.
The current avatar managed by Dunga contains players not even good enough to tie the shoelaces of their illustrious predecessors and when it comes to playing football the less said about it the better.
It is difficult to decide where to start. Does the blame lie with the manager who is playing a brand of football as far removed from Brazilian culture as Tony Pulisa is from Barcelona. All his side does is either wait for a moment of inspiration from a set piece or for the full backs to stretch defences on the break.
But maybe Dunga is being practical. Maybe he knows that even with Neymar he does not contain the quality of players to impose a style of play or to emphasize on possession. But either ways, for all associated with the green & gold, Saturday was painful viewing.
Brazil might be better off with this exit
Imagine an alternate reality for a moment, a world in which Thiago Silva does not stupidly confuse football with basketball or volleyball thus allowing Brazil to squeeze past Paraguay. They would then have come against Argentina & one knows that there is one team which is going to suffer badly when La Albiceleste decide to hit top gear & the World Cup humiliation from a year back might well have repeated. But more damagingly Argentinaa s potential brilliance would have provided Dunga & the CBF a comfortable excuse. Now they have none.
They have to recognize that this is not the way Brazil can play or should play football. They have 3 years to prepare & qualify for the next World Cup. If they continue playing the same way they might come in 2nd in the South American qualifying but they stand no chance against the top sides.
But if they try & evolve and play a style of football more in tune with the Brazil teams of the past they might find qualification for the next World Cup to be tough (they will get to Russia or wherever else they do host the World Cup in the end) but in 8 to 10 years we might see a Brazil closer to the top of the world game.
So this is the task that lies in front of Dunga & it is not an easy one – to ensure that Brazil returns to its roots.
Paraguay are a resilient lot under Ramon Diaz
If there is one thing that this Paraguayan side have is the ability to fight till the final whistle. This belief was evident in their two goals in the 2nd half against Argentina & in the way they retained their composure despite an early Brazil opener.
The Paraguayans are a well drilled outfit & all the pre match talk of the midfield & defence staying close together to avoid giving Brazil the space to play came to fruition. All of this showed the hard hours that Diaz would have spent with his charges to allow them to compete against nations having more talent.
In the match the Paraguayans attacked the ball aggressively which not only gave the Brazilians less time on the ball but also forced them to delay the pass more resulting in the strikers getting caught offside.
Ultimately, it was not Diaza s fault that he came up against an ordinary Brazilian side but his tactics ensured that Paraguay made the most of this opportunity.