Coach Dunga is confident he has assembled a mature and skilful Brazilian squad ready for their first big challenge at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ against the Netherlands.
Brazil cruised into the quarter-finals with a 3-0 win over Chile at Soccer City on Monday and now face the Dutch in Port Elizabeth on Friday. The Netherlands, two-time beaten finalists in 1974 and 1978, stretched their longest-ever unbeaten streak to 23 games with a 2-1 Round-of-16 victory over Slovakia in Durban on Monday.
The Brazilians, aiming for a record sixth world title, have beaten the Dutch twice in their two previous FIFA World Cup encounters. The Oranje fell 4-2 on penalties after drawing their 1998 semi-final 1-1 in France and lost 3-2 in the quarter-finals of the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States where Dunga went on to lift the trophy as captain.
There are huge expectations weighing on Brazil to win the world crown at Soccer City on 11 July, but Dunga is confident his team, unbeaten in four matches here, is coming along nicely ahead of the business end of the tournament. "Given the quality of the team, there is always the expectation, but you don't win the World Cup by being favourites alone," he said. "As we go along, the confidence is growing and we are hoping to reach the final."
The Dutch, traditionally technically efficient, have been likened to a South American team by Dunga. "We have already said we are trying to play the open football which everyone wants to see. The players did well and we got forward a lot against Chile," he said.
We know the Netherlands are a very difficult team to beat and they are very able technically, they play their football like South Americans.
"We know the Netherlands are a very difficult team to beat and they are very able technically, they play their football like South Americans. Even though Brazil has beaten the Dutch twice before, every World Cup provides its own experience. Holland have a good tradition at the World Cup, we have to be very careful with the Dutch players, they are very technically able and we have to be able to deal with that."
But Dunga, who has been under intense pressure and unrelenting scrutiny as coach from a sceptical media and public over his pragmatic tactics, is confident the system he has in place will bring results. "The quality of our players allows me to be calm with what has been built up over the last three years, all I have to do is communicate with them in the game," he said. "The Brazilian team are a mature outfit and they carry out exactly what I say.
"We have a group of players who have a great range of skills and we allow them to perform at their peak. I have said the players have the liberty to play, I try to give them advice to guide them so when we know the midfield is closed we attack down the flanks. We are fortunate to have players who can interchange quickly. When the Chileans packed the midfield, Kaka moved more down the flanks as did Robinho."
Robinho, Budweiser Man of the Match with his first goal of the tournament and a key part in the lead up to striker Luis Fabiano's effort, believes A Selecao are on the right track. "Now we've got another decisive match ahead. There's always room for improvement, but I think we're on the right track and we're achieving our objectives," he said.
Luis Fabiano, who scored his third goal of the tournament, was delighted with Brazil's performance against Chile. "I think that A Selecao made a real breakthrough. We created several moves and were able to launch our counter-attacks," he said. "We've come through another difficult game and we're getting there, step by step. We've picked up a very important victory, which is going to really boost our confidence."