Brazil refine tactics for World Cup
You had to feel sorry for those fringe England players pushing their claims for a World Cup squad place against Brazil. There were few chances to shine and they were outgunned individually and collectively.
Unsurprisingly England's under-strength line-up looked like a collection of players. Brazil, meanwhile, looked like a team - and for this, plenty of credit has to go to Dunga.
I've been critical of Brazil's coach in the past and doubtless will be again in the future. For what it's worth, my preference would be for more football and a better range of passing from the central midfield duo.
But pleasing me, or those who think along similar lines, is not going to be high up on Dunga's list of priorities. He goes about things his way, and, with no previous coaching experience, what stands out is the clarity of his concepts. His team consistently seem to have a clear idea of what they are trying to achieve.
Saturday's masterstroke was for striker Luis Fabiano to drop deep and combine with Kaka. Not only did this help set up the play, it also sucked in the England team - so when the ball was then pinged over for Nilmar to cut across from the left, the lack of pace in the right side of England's defence was exposed. The ploy created a stream of chances and won the game.
The tactics employed by Dunga (left) in Doha gave opposite number Fabio Capello plenty to think about
It was a welcome victory for Brazil because they have been having problems with exactly this type of encounter - when they are superior to the opposition. A full-strength England would have given them more to worry about but might also have been more ambitious and left themselves open.
Away to Uruguay in qualification, for example, Brazil lost the corner count 15-2 but they took their opponents apart on the break to win 4-0. That devastating counter-attack was also working well in Argentina, where they won 3-1 but four times during the campaign they were held 0-0 at home.
Against Argentina it might be seen as normal - against Colombia less so, Venezuela even less and Bolivia is off the scale. In nine away games it was the only time Bolivia avoided defeat, and Brazil's lone clear chance came in injury time.
This is a problem because next year in South Africa, in the group phase at least, opponents are likely to sit back, throw two compact lines of four across the pitch and make sure they do not play into the hands of the Brazilian counter-attack.
Dunga, then, has been looking for solutions. The first was to include a mixed midfielder on the right - on Saturday it was Elano, but Ramires and Daniel Alves are also in contention. This is partly aimed at freeing Maicon to burst forward from right-back with his extraordinary power.
The diagonal pass out to Nilmar on the other flank now gives them an impressive option on the left - and there is balance through the middle as well. Gilberto Silva may not make much of an attacking contribution, but he can hold the fort while Lucio charges up from centre-back.
On an individual basis it was the other centre back who was the success story of Saturday afternoon. Thiago Silva's heart must have sunk when he was not included in the original squad but injuries forced a call up for the classy Milan defender, who showed that he is a serious contender to challenge the injury-prone Juan for a place in South Africa.
Thiago Silva staked a claim for a regular place with an impressive display in Brazil's defence
The centre-back on the left side of the field looks like being a key position because this is the flank where Brazil are most vulnerable. There are two problems, one of personnel, the other of formation.
Brazil used six left-backs in qualification and none of them looked entirely convincing. Liverpool's Fabio Aurelio would have had a great chance to push his claims, but was forced out by yet another injury so on Saturday, it was the turn of Michel Bastos to make his debut. Because he operates in midfield for Lyon, some of the English press seem to think that he was being played out of position. Not so. He is originally a left-back, and was picked in this squad as a left-back. The evidence is, though, that his defensive skills are not good enough.
Whoever plays there is likely to have a hard time. The Brazilian midfield is strongly titled towards the right - a consequence of that option to let Maicon steam forward from full back. The left-back is isolated, with less cover behind him if he chooses to push up.
Now that the ball out to Nilmar (or Robinho) high up on the left has been added to the repertoire, maybe Dunga will seek to balance it out with a defensive full-back on that flank. Shaun Wright-Phillips gave Michel Bastos some awkward moments and an opponent with more collective understanding could have caused him more problems.
The left-back position, then, is something Dunga will have to think about. He's running in to that wonderful Brazilian expression - organising a team is like having a small blanket on a cold night. Cover your feet and your neck freezes, pull it over your neck and your feet get cold.
For the moment, though, Brazil's coach is entitled to sleep soundly. Against England his team showed talent and balance, and a clear idea of what they were aiming to do. The talent comes from the players. The rest is Dunga's department.
Comments on the piece in the space provided. Other questions on South American football to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.
From last week's postbag:
Q) How do you think Chile will fare at the World Cup?
A) The right decision was made, but it would have been interesting to see them in action away to Germany over the weekend. Chile want to attack, with two wingers and a centre forward. It will be fascinating next year to see if they can do it against physically stronger teams - and whether they can defend in the air as well. Even if it doesn't go well for them, I think they'll be an asset to the World Cup - they will certainly not be one of those teams who clog up the tournament, with 11 players hanging off their own crossbar.
Q) I'm sad about the demise of Brazil post-1982/6. I never thought that I would say this, but I hope that Brazil are soundly beaten in this World Cup as otherwise the sort of stuff that Dunga thinks is acceptable will be perpetuated for another generation.
A) I'm sure you'll be disappointed with the column, as I've given Dunga a lot of praise. I do, in fact, have a lot of sympathy for your viewpoint. I'm a purist in this sense, I was brought up to appreciate the kind of football where the players with the most imaginative range of passing featured in central midfield, making the game flow - like Toninho Cerezo and Falcao in 82. I would love to see more of that, especially from Brazil.
Imagine how the game would have developed if Brazil had won in 82. But, on the other hand, while we may talk about the 'demise' of Brazil since then, the trophy cabinet tells a different story. The '94 win ushered in a new period of success. As I mentioned last week, I think there are signs that this model, of closing down central midfield with giants, is showing its age. - and a failure in South Africa next year could well lead to a rethink, which wouldn't be a bad thing.
But when I judge Dunga's work, I can't do that solely by criteria that I bring to the table. His aim is to win matches and titles. He's been doing that, so by his own standards he is successful - though the definitive judgement will come next year.
I do, though, think it's healthy that a Brazil fan such as yourself is not happy just to win. The appeal of football is about much more than what you do - it's also about how you do it. If football was just numbers it would be bingo.