Five-time FIFA World Cup™ champions, the winners of the last two
Copa Americas and the birthplace of the world's brightest
talents, Brazil have the credentials to back up their claim to be
the kings of the football. But, as the class of 2008 are finding
out, standards have to be maintained. While their qualification
campaign seems to be progressing smoothly enough, the fans back
home are not entirely happy and even dished out some stern
criticism to their heroes in the last outing with Uruguay.
With almost a quarter of the South American qualifying race having been completed, FIFA.com takes a look at the Seleçao's progress to date.
Colombia 0-0 Brazil
Brazil 5-0 Ecuador
Peru 1-1 Brazil
Brazil 2-1 Uruguay
True to his reputation, coach Dunga has established some much-needed defensive stability in the side since taking over. The results have been there for everyone to see, with keeper Julio Cesar conceding a mere two goals in four games. Up front, Brazil came into their own on Matchday 2 against Ecuador. With 19 minutes remaining and only one goal to the good, a Robinho-inspired Brazil conjured up a 12-minute purple patch that saw them slam four more past their opponents.
Given the dazzling personnel at their disposal, Brazil's team performances have left something to be desired, particularly away from home. Following a goalless draw in Colombia, Dunga took his side to Peru, where Kaka put them ahead only for the hosts to hit back and claim a point. The fans will certainly be expecting an improvement when the Brazilians head to Asuncion in June to take on group leaders Paraguay.
Their finest hour
Brazil 2-1 Uruguay
Goals: Brazil - Luis Fabiano (44 & 64); Uruguay - Sebastian Abreu (8)
While hardly a vintage Brazil performance, this was an ultimately crucial win. After all, if Dunga's charges can continue to churn out the results even on off-days like this, then there is no limit to what they can achieve come 2010. The Charrúas snatched an early lead at the Morumbi - they could even have extended it had they been sharper in front of goal - before Luis Fabiano made the visitors pay with a well-taken brace. Welcome as they were, the three points did not stop the Brazilian supporters from voicing their displeasure at a less than convincing display.
The key men
With Dunga now calling the shots from the bench, there has been a gradual changing of the guard. Julio Cesar seems to have secured his place between the posts, while Robinho has been able to reproduce his fine Real Madrid form on international duty. And against Uruguay Luis Fabiano took his Brazil tally to eight, confiming his place on their long roll call of sharpshooters. What with Kaka and Ronaldinho polishing the bullets behind him, the Sevilla striker can expect to bolster that tally before too long.
The numbers game
41: The months that have elapsed since Brazil last chalked up an away win in a FIFA World Cup qualifying match. It was on 9 October 2004 that they put Venezuela to the sword in Maracaibo courtesy of doubles from Kaka and Ronaldo, and another from Adriano. In their six games on the road since then, however, the mighty Brazilians have drawn four and lost two.
"People who say qualifying is going to be easy for Brazil don't know what they are talking about. There are some difficult teams out there, and you also have to remember sides try harder against us and they really want to win. Beating Brazil is a huge motivator for them. It's essential we maintain our focus and concentrate on reaching our objective," Robinho, rebuffing talk of an easy ride to South Africa 2010.