Milan can hate Dunga now. Or maybe everyone can.
I hear after the match Cesar cried in the press conference. Sad. Very sad. But… REFRESHING! Honestly, I’m sick as hell at the sight of Inter Milan players jumping up in joy for the past umm… 4 years, holding up a trophy. Yesterday’s result was a scant consolation for a Milan fan.
Okay, on a more serious note, Brazil is out. Which is good, because Italy can win the WC in Brazil 2014 and tie Brazil with 5 stars apiece. But that’s 4 years from now, and this post is about what happened yesterday.
I predicted it then – this Brazil team had quality, but they were too rigid. Too inflexible and tied down by their one system. This Brazil team could play only one way – when in control of the game, probably a goal up, high on confidence and momentum and with their opponents chasing. Make no mistake, the starting 11 (and by that I mean only the starting 11) of Brazil was by far the strongest 11 of any of the 32 teams at the World Cup.
But that’s where the good stuff ends. Look outside Dunga’s starting 11, and save for DANI ALVES, Brazil didn’t have a single quality player, or at least of World Cup winning material. I’ve criticized Dunga’s selection from the very first day. If Brazil were going to win the World Cup, then Dunga’s starting 11 were going to have to play the perfect game, in all their 7 matches, without too many of them getting injured and suspended. Dunga always thought his starting 11 had TOO much quality for him to be bothered about who was sitting on the bench, and that was his undoing. Elano injured, Ramires suspended, Kaka just not hitting top form and Dunga was essentially out of players and ideas in the last 30 minutes of the match.
Because of the lack of quality players outside the starting 11, Dunga was restricted by his formation and was not able to change it. Two holding midfielders, Kaka in the centre, Robinho on the left, Ramires on the right and Fabiano up front. All fine when you’re in control of the game maybe (which Brazil is 90% of the time), but watch how Brazil just crumbled when chasing the game. Dunga needed to re-organize the team, to change something, to add an element of flexibility and surprise and that he could not do. How could he? Who could he bring on? Baptista? Kleberson? He ultimately bought on Nightmare Nilmar, shockingly, for Fabiano. Brazil needed Fabiano at that moment more than any other time; With time trickling down, Maicon and Alves were pumping in long balls and Kaka was trying his luck, they needed Fabiano’s aerial and physical presence and his ability to poach in rebounds and poke them into the net. Nilmar was never going to be able to do any of that.
Take a look at Spain. They start with 2 holding midfielders, in Alonso and Busquets, but when in need of a goal, Del Bosque completely changes things. He usually removes one of the holding midfielders and brings on an attacker. Jesus Navas can come on to add pace/explosiveness or Silva can come on to add width or Fabregas can be brought in to ‘unlock’ the opposing defence – if they are intent on sitting back and defending their lead. The team has flexibility and can change shape seamlessly and adapt as per requirements.
Brazil? – No way. If he really thought that he was going to survive this tournament without having to rely on his subs, then that’s shockingly naive, more so keeping in mind that he won the WC in 1994 as captain.
People will talk about how Brazil entered the tournament as the No.1 ranked team, on some winning run, Confederation Cup winners and thus favourites. But THIS IS BRAZIL, AND BLUDDY HELL, THEY ENTER EVERY DAMN TOURNAMENT AS FAVOURITES! If Brazil were not ranked No.1, Dunga would to justify not considering Ronaldinho and Pato and may even have lost his job long ago.
Whereas, think about it, for about every World Cup, you’d hear someone say, Brazil has enough quality in them, that even their substitutes could win the WC. This time? I doubt that the likes of Kleberson, Baptista et al could beat a Sunday league team.
He’ll never admit it, but having Ronaldinho and Pato would have made a difference. The writing was on the wall when, in the absence of Kaka and Robinho, Brazil struggled to cut open a Portuguese defence (a mighty good one no doubt), and it was clear to see that Baptista should have never been here, not least at the expense of someone like ‘Dinho.
Dunga apparently was not impressed with the defensive work of Diego, Ronaldinho and Pato when he took them to the Olympics, which is fair enough. I can still understand him leaving Diego, after his horror season with Juve, but Dinho and Pato? Dinho topped the assist charts in Seria A and Pato was Milan’s top-scorer last season. Pato’s decision making, admittedly, is horrible – he simply does not know when to dribble, pass and shoot – but the boy is quality and adds pace and width; And Dinho, for the whole season, played every match as if it was some audition to get into the Brazil team, tracking back deep into his own half, and picking loose balls and giving it everything he had. He clearly showed that he was willing to put in a better defensive display, and even then Dunga didn’t give him a chance, so Dunga deserves this for his ignorance or arrogance, call it what you will.
Just imagine the difference it would have made, having someone like ‘Dinho and Pato – with Brazil in desperate need of a goal. Dunga could have sacrificed one of his defensive midfielders and brought on Pato. Or he could have removed a defensive midfielder and Alves, and brought on Pato and ‘Dinho. Imagine Kaka, Robinho, Pato, ‘Dinho and Fabiano on the field! Either way, there’s no way they could have done any worse than what brazil did in their last 30 minutes, removing Fabiano for Nilmar, and Robinho and Kaka looking..nervous?
Ultimately, his undoing was his over-pragmatic approach, his team was so used to controlling the tempo and possession and enforcing their style on their opponents, that being a goal down needed some getting used to. Like someone I know said, “Dunga’s boys were too good, too used to winning and proving their critics wrong. That by the time they actually fathomed the fact that they, the no.1 team in the world, were a goal down, the game was over already”. Jackpot! Brazil lacked any sense of direction in the last 30 minutes. They needed inspiration, someone to tell them, “Okay, fellas this is how we do it”. They looked lost and clueless. And Dunga just stood there, knowing that there was not one single permutation or combination of the players on the pitch that would do, other than gamble by replacing players with others of lesser quality (like Nilmar for Fabiano).
If Brazil played Holland 10 times, Brazil would still win 8 times, make no mistake, that is why Brazil entered the match as ‘favourites’, but it’s the WC – it’s about performing on the day and rising up to the stage.
And on another note, a look at Milan’s players in the WC so far.
Zambrotta, Pirlo and Gattuso – all out at the group stage. Milan’s 20 year old Adiyiah came on as a super sub for Ghana, missed a penalty, and Ghana are now out. Thiago Silva didn’t play a single minute for Brazil. Huntelaar has scored a goal so far, and seems to be Milan’s best hope for anything this WC. Good luck to him then, hopefully he wins the Golden Boot!