Brazil for the 2018 World Cup?
Dunga’s return to the Brazil management setup has seen the seleção win four from four games; beating World Cup quarter-final opponents Colombia 1-0, Ecuador 1-0, Argentina 2-0 and Japan 4-0. Although this has done little to reduce the hurt the nation felt after their ignominious World Cup exit, it does seem to highlight a step in the right direction. That direction is obviously winning the next World Cup in Russia. So can it be done or have Brazil wasted their golden opportunity of world success?
If you take away home support out of the equation then winning the World Cup in Russia is more plausible for Brazil. You ask why? Well the main reason is that disaster brings about seismic change, something that the Brazilian squad will undergo, much like Germany after their disastrous Euro 2004 campaign. Here are the key ingredients for success in 2018.
Dunga (right) by Aecio Neves
As we have seen in his friendly squads, Dunga is discarding with the deadwood that Luis Felipe Scolari called players. The much chastised Fred has retired, and the elder statesmen of Scolari’s squad will gradually be eased out after the Copa America. Dunga has now made room for young, hungry players to come up and try and make the national jersey their own – it is stupefying that players like Philippe Coutinho, Alex Sandro and Marquinhos have just 10 caps between them. These poor saplings have not been able to get enough light and therefore withered, but, by stripping back the old boys these youngsters will get the experience they need and flourish and the world stage.
Neymar is the big one. The 22-year-old, who is already the captain of the national side, is widely regarded as one of the best talents in world football; 2014 saw a 22-year-old Neymar lead Brazil at the World Cup, can you imagine how good a 26-year-old Neymar will be? By then his playing ability will likely be equal to that of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Neymar by Jose Martinez
Come 2018, Neymar will be more than capable of leading; his record of 40 goals in 58 international appearances suggests that he is already ready. Dunga must be very pleased with how his captain is performing in La Liga; the Barcelona man has nine goals from nine games, which has subsequently led to Betfair and other bookmakers installing him as third favourite behind Ronaldo and Messi to finish top goalscorer. The longer Neymar plays in Europe the better he gets; and the better he gets, the better Brazil get.
Scheduling is also going to help Brazil. We have mentioned that Dunga is going to inject youth into his squad, and while friendlies are good for blooding youngsters they are not brilliant for creating a cohesive squad. Thankfully, the Selecao will be playing in two Copa Americas before the 2018 World Cup. The first, in Chile (2015), will allow Dunga to experiment with his youngsters in a competitive environment, while the second, which is held the year after in the USA, should see this young side become one of the dominant forces in world football.
Here’s to hoping that 2018 will see Brazil finish the task they were meant to have done four years prior.