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Individuals win matches, but groups win titles

When one thinks of Brazilian football, we conjure up images of exquisite skill, flamboyant passing and a carnival-type atmosphere. However, the current Brazilian side has little of these traits. Built in the image of their coach, the gritty former holding midfielder, Dunga, there is no space for the big names and the extravagant expansive play that we come to expect. The Brazilian media are still to be convinced, despite his prior success, but if he were to be standing on the pitch in Soccer City, Johannesburg on July 11th, he will be hailed as a hero.

Dunga knows what it takes to win the World Cup

When Brazil crashed out of the 2006 World Cup in the final eight against France, the media latched onto the supposed excesses of the side as the excuse – the team played as talented individuals, not as a talented group. It was this that led to the appointment of Dunga. He emphasised that while individuals may win matches, groups win titles. Since he was appointed, he has backed up his words with success – winners of the Copa América in 2007 and the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2009 – and they will begin the 2010 FIFA World Cup as second favourites behind reigning European champions, Spain.

The reigning Confederations Cup champions

However, the squad of 23 that will travel to South Africa is missing a number of big names that the media have been campaigning hard to have included. A brief look at the players that will be missing out would make the majority of other national coaches green with envy – the players that will be watching from home include AC Milan pair Ronaldinho and Alex Pato, Chelsea’s Alex, Juventus’ Diego, Real Madrid’s Marcelo, Flamengo pair Adriano and Wagner Love, Corinthians’ Ronaldo and Santos pair Neymar and Paulo Henrique – the list goes on.

Ronaldo and Ronaldinho - neither of them will be in South Africa

Instead, the likes of Felipe Melo, Gilberto Silva, Kleberson and Josue join Kaka in the midfield, and Nilmar and Grafite will be battling for a place with Robinho and Luis Fabiano up front. It is difficult to criticise Dunga, given that Brazil have only lost one of their past 23 games – a defeat at altitude in Bolivia. However, it seems unlikely that we will see Brazil playing with their characteristic spark. Rather they will try to grind down teams with a physical style that has become noticeable in recent years. Whilst there is a good chance that this will be effective, it will not be the Brazil that people have grown up wanting to emulate.

There were calls for Neymar and Paulo Henrique to be taken to South Africa

However, it would be easy to look at Brazil in a negative light. However, they still have a number of top quality players, and goals should not be too much of an issue. Kaka will be the driving creative force for Luis Fabiano and Robinho; Maicon and Daniel Alves will provide support on the wings, whilst in Julio Cesar and Lucio, they have one of the best keepers and defenders that will be in South Africa.

In Julio Cesar, they have one of the top keepers

Only a fool would count Brazil out in the final reckoning, but if they do make it, it is unlikely to be with the samba-style football that they are famed for. Dunga knows that anything less than raising the trophy will be perceived as a failure, and he has put his faith in a group of players, rather than individuals. In just under two months time, we will know whether he has made the correct call.

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