The title should actually read what fails Brazilian soccer? Clearly, with all its unsurpassed talent, Brazilian soccer should have no ailment. Jonathan Wilson’s article in the Guardian exposes Brazil’s fatal flaws when competing against teams which individual talent may find tough to overcome.
Against Mexico in the Olympics finals, as the clip shows, slipshod defending had much to do with the scoreline which suggests that Brazil has yet to find the next generation of savvy, physical, and athletically gifted defenders to takeover from Maicon, Lucio, and Juan.
That was the imprimatur left by Dunga which worked well in the 2007 Copa America but three years later the pendulum shifted the other way when Felipe Melo became the poster boy of his overtly physical, less skillful, defensive posture during the 2010 World Cup. However Dunga’s allocation of resources to defensive mettle in an otherwise missing facet of Brazil’s game made other team’s sit up and take notice. Such mistakes would not have been tolerated.
Dunga should also be appreciated for championing Elano, who would have made all the difference to this Olympic side, connecting backfield to the frontlines. Against Mexico, the twin pivots of Romulo and Sandro were quite circumspect doing little to create other than steering the ball out of harm’s way in the backfield. Ganso is a good player but he’s obviously struggling to recover after his injury absence. There was another reason why Dunga was able to do more with his squad. He deliberately spurned highly individualistic players like Adriano and Ronaldinho going in for lesser lights like Vagner Love and Fred. In the present line up Hulk would have definitely got a call up to a Dunga squad because of his work rate and willingness to play as a team member.
Since Tele Santana, football in Brazil has been a variation between defense and offense light. The losses of the 1982 and 1986 teams seem to have preyed on the Brazilian psyche in a very negative way. Those scars were seen in a very boring and defensive minded Brazil team win in the 1994 World Cup and then repeating in 2002 against very ordinary competition with a more forthcoming attack. The problem with this U23 team that will surely form the nucleus of the 2014 squad is that they have do not have enough quality competition to iron out the problems between now and the World Cup. But Dunga could possibly do something to help Neymar tamp down on showboating and track back to help those overly ambitious and attacking wing backs.