Brazil coach Dunga hopes Tuesday's friendly against the Republic of Ireland in London will underline his conviction that his side can be successful at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ without Ronaldinho.
Dunga has gradually nudged Ronaldinho into international exile since taking charge of the Selecao in 2006 after opting to construct a team in his own no-nonsense image. Instead of indulging the whims of supremely gifted but undisciplined stars like Ronaldinho, Dunga has put his faith in the more prosaic midfield talents of Felipe Melo, Gilberto Silva and Elano.
His decision has frustrated fans and pundits used to Brazil's more flamboyant incarnations, especially since Ronaldinho, 29, has finally recaptured some of his old verve in recent months. An influential display in AC Milan's UEFA Champions League defeat against Manchester United showed he can still torment the world's best defenders.
But Dunga has shown no signs of changing his philosophy and delivered one final snub to Ronaldinho when he left the playmaker out of the squad for this week's clash with Ireland at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium. "I guess it's normal (for Ronaldinho's exit to cause controversy) because the players who are absent are always the best and everyone wants to talk about who is not part of the national team," Dunga said.
"None of this is new on the eve of a World Cup. The questions and answers continue to be the same. The pressure on the coach of the Selecao is always very strong. Every region and newspaper would like to impose their own players, but I will go forward in my own way."
Every region and newspaper would like to impose their own players, but I will go forward in my own way.
While Ronaldinho remained in exile for much of Brazil's successful campaign to reach the finals in South Africa, Dunga knows FIFA World Cups are not won on perspiration alone. The man who captained Brazil to victory at the 1994 FIFA World Cup is fundamentally a pragmatist, but he will allow the likes of Real Madrid attacker Kaka and Robinho, the Manchester City forward on loan at Santos, to add some glitter to his team in Brazil's last match before South Africa 2010.
Another bumper crowd of close to 60,000 is expected in north London to see if Dunga's controversial snub of Ronaldinho pays dividends. It will be the fifth time Brazil have played at the Emirates following matches against Italy, Sweden, Portugal and Argentina.
For Ireland, the match marks a return to the field for the first time since the controversial qualifier that sent France to the FIFA World Cup. Trapattoni has included three uncapped players in his squad as he looks ahead to the start of UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying next season.
James McCarthy, the Scotland-born Wigan midfielder who turned down the chance to represent his birth country in favour of playing for Ireland, is in the squad but is a doubt for the game after suffering an ankle injury against Birmingham on Saturday. Manchester City defender Greg Cunningham and Portsmouth centre-back Marc Wilson have also been called up for the first time.