Dunga making Brazil look good again
(Neymar 20, 60, Semih Kaya 24-og, Willian 44)
The memory of World Cup 2014 will never be erased, but Brazil's new coach Dunga is doing his best to help his people move on.
The man who lifted the World Cup as a player in 1994 secured a fifth successive victory in Istanbul yesterday morning (Singapore time), masterminding an encouraging 4-0 victory over Fatih Terim's terrible Turkey.
This is Dunga's second spell in charge of the Selecao, the first coming to an end in 2010 with his own disappointing World Cup adventure in South Africa.
It's worth recalling, however, that he remains the last Brazilian coach to win anything - the Copa America in 2007.
That competition will give Dunga his first competitive game, but not until next year.
Until then, a parade of friendlies is all he can offer. It's going well so far.
Brazil conceded 10 goals in their last two games under Luiz Felipe Scolari.
Under the new management, they haven't even conceded one in five.
Argentina and Colombia are among the victims of a team that look more spontaneous and more expressive in every department.
TURKEY FOR DINNER
Though, in fairness, most teams would against a side as miserable as Turkey.
Terim's men sit at the bottom of their Euro 2016 qualifying Group A table, having been beaten by Iceland and the Czech Republic, their only respite coming from a 1-1 draw with Latvia.
More is required against Kazakhstan on Sunday if they are to salvage any hope of qualification.
One can only hope that their minds were on that game because some of the defending was stunningly bad.
In the stands, the fans booed their own players and made a point of chanting the name of Neymar, the man who was doing all the damage.
Naturally, it was Neymar who was the first to take advantage of the hosts' hospitality.
A huge ball from deep lofted over an impossibly high Turkish line and the Brazilian wunderkind scampered through on goal.
He made a mess of his first touch, the ball ricochetting between his legs before he brought it under control and prodded it into the bottom corner.
Five minutes later, the advantage was doubled, Willian's cross poked past his own goalkeeper by Semi Kayah.
Turkey wobbled horribly and, though they offered some resistance from set-pieces, it was only a matter of time before they were breached again.
Once again, Neymar was pivotal, ripping open the left flank and then zipping inside.
The ball fell to Willian and the Chelsea man's finish was perfect.
Turkey went down the tunnel with their heads bowed.
Just before the hour, it got even worse. Willian fed Neymar who just danced through the Turkish lines as if they weren't there.
Scolari's plan had always been to solidify the team and leave limited outlets for creativity.
A devotee of the works of Sun Tzu, the Brazilian wanted to first eliminate the possibility of defeat before attempting to secure victory.
Unfortunately for him, the outlets were few and far between.
When Fred failed to recreate his bustling, industrious performances of the 2013 Confederations Cup, Brazil found themselves without a pivot in the final third.
When Neymar was injured in the quarter-finals of the World Cup, they found themselves without their superstar.
Losing to a team as organised and intelligent as Germany was inevitable. Only the margin was surprising.
Dunga had a similar reputation for pragmatism in his first spell in charge, but he seems to have loosened up now, almost as if he knows that he has nothing to lose.
He's already tried the sensible approach and it didn't work. He certainly can't do much worse than his predecessor, so why not take the handbrake off?
He has been aided by improved performances across the board, of course.
David Luiz was excellent at the back and Willian rivalled Neymar as the best player on the pitch against Turkey.
But what came across most was a sense of enjoyment among the players.
For the first time in years, this looked like a real Brazilian side.
How much of that was down to them and how much was down to Turkey remains to be seen.
But, for now, it is enough that the echoes of 2014 are fading into the memory.
- TURKEY: Volkan Demirel (Volkan Babacan 46), Bekir Irtegun, Ismail Koybasi, Ozan Tufan, Semih Kaya, Arda Turan, Bilal Kisa (Volkan Sen 46), Hamit Altintop (Selcuk Inan 46), Mehmet Topal (Tarik Camdal 79), Mevlut Erding, Umut Bulut (Alper Potuk 85)
- BRAZIL: Diego Alves, Danilo, David Luiz, Miranda, Filipe Luis, Fernandinho (Casemiro 73), Luiz Gustavo (Fred 85), Oscar (Philippe Coutinho 73), Luiz Adriano (Roberto Firmino 73), Neymar, Willian (Douglas Costa 77)
Dunga: We've banished the past
WELL DONE, GUYS: Brazil coach Dunga applauding his team's showing against Turkey. PHOTO: REUTERS
Brazil have risen from the ashes of the disastrous 7-1 mauling by Germany in the World Cup semi-finals, said new coach Dunga.
The Selecao's 1994 World Cup-winning captain made that declaration after their 4-0 win over Turkey in Istanbul yesterday morning (Singapore time).
It was the Selecao's fifth consecutive win and fifth straight clean sheet since Dunga took over from Luiz Felipe Scolari after the World Cup debacle four months ago.
The Selecao were applauded off the field after their latest win, which came courtesy of a Neymar double, a fine strike from Willian and an own goal from Turkey defender Semih Kaya.
Not surprisingly, Neymar's name was on the home fans' lips throughout the second half.
Said Dunga: "We are glad that we are now being recognised as a good team again," he said.
"It makes us proud to see the fans applauding the Selecao, as they did at the end of the game.
"We are starting to get our self-confidence back. We are getting better with each passing day.
"The bad days are behind us; we have our team spirit back."
Defender David Luiz echoed Dunga's sentiments and hailed Brazil's rediscovered resilience.
Luiz felt the breakaway nature of their third goal perfectly illustrated the way in which the new-look Brazil - who blooded three uncapped players in Luiz Adriano, Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa - have progressed since the World Cup.
"We turned the pressure in our favour," the Paris Saint-Germain player told TV Globo. "I'm happy with how the team performed against a difficult side, so it was a good debut for the new guys.
"That's what we must try to achieve now: To grow in each and every game. So, in general, we're happy with our work.
"But we must keep our feet on the ground and try to improve in every aspect of our game.
"When you have a goal like this, you're on the right road to becoming stronger."
Neymar, who has now scored six goals in two games for his country, following last month's four-goal feat against Japan at Singapore's National Stadium, couldn't contain his delight.
The Brazil skipper told Globo TV: "I think I'm in the best form of my career though I can't be satisfied.
"I shall keep on working hard to get even better, to keep on helping Barcelona and the Brazil national side."
- Wire Services.
THREE & EASY
- Who are the three uncapped players blooded by Dunga against Turkey?
Forward Luiz Adriano (above), 27, was the top scorer in last season’s Ukrainian league and has featured for Shakhtar Donetsk regularly in the Champions League, as did his clubmate and fellow debutant, 24-year-old Douglas Costa.
Roberto Firmino, who also made his Selecao bow yesterday, is reportedly on the books of EPL giants Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool.
Yesterday’s maiden appearance in the blue and yellow capped a memorable year for the 23-yearold Hoffenheim midfielder (inset), who racked up 16 goals and 12 assists in last season’s Bundesliga.
- Why is yesterday’s win significant for Dunga’s new-look Brazil?
In Brazil’s final two matches under Luiz Felipe Scolari, Brazil conceded 10 goals. Since Dunga took over, they have conceded none in five matches, albeit friendlies.
Under Dunga, Brazil had pipped Colombia and Ecuador 1-0, beaten Argentina 2-0 and thrashed Japan and Turkey 4-0. They will be hoping to make it six out of six in their next friendly against Austria next Wednesday (Singapore time).
- How many goals has Neymar scored for Brazil since the World Cup?
It’s now seven goals in five games for the Brazil skipper, six of which came in the last two matches.
Following his four-goal showing against Japan at Singapore’s National Stadium last month, the Barcelona forward, who is the second leading scorer in La Liga with nine strikes behind Cristiano Ronaldo (18), followed it up with a brace against Turkey.