Seleção start to lift spirits again
It is only just over three months since Brazil’s World Cup humiliation but there are signs that the 7-1 hammering against Germany may actually be a good thing for the Selecao in the long run.
Even before that surreal game, it was obvious that Luiz Felipe Scolari’s brand of football was outdated and some of the displays earlier in the tournament were dreadful.
Despite beating Croatia 3-1 on the opening day, Brazil could easily have lost the game and Mexico were also unfortunate not to take more than a point from their match against Scolari’s increasingly long-ball side.
Fighting amongst themselves
An inept Cameroon side were beaten 4-1 to lift spirits among Brazilian fans but the Indomitable Lions were more interested in fighting amongst themselves than playing the hosts.
Victories against Chile and Colombia had more to do with curious refereeing decisions than brilliant Brazilian play and, although the manner of Germany’s semi-final victory was remarkable, it was clear that Scolari’s side had used up their luck much earlier in the competition.
Scolari resigned, eventually, but the appointment of Dunga, who had previously managed the side between 2006 and 2010, was not universally welcomed as it seemed to be yet another backwards step.
However, the initial signs are encouraging. Just 59 days after the 7-1 embarrassment in Belo Horizonte, Brazil beat Colombia 1-0 and followed it up with a one-goal victory against Ecuador.
Gloom starts to lift
In October a 2-0 victory against World Cup finalists Argentina was followed three days later by a 4-0 hammering of Japan in Singapore.
Slowly but surely the gloom that followed the Germany drubbing has started to lift and Brazil are starting to look to the future again with international football betting patterns suggesting they will be one of the favourites to lift the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Dunga has attempted to play attacking football, while keeping a solid defence, and his policy appears to be working as the four successive clean sheets testify.
Brazil can still call on some of the best players on the planet. Neymar has returned to action after the back injury he suffered at the World Cup, when his absence appeared to drain all the confidence out of his team-mates.
An unlikely star
The Barcelona star scored all four goals against Japan while the likes of Oscar, David Luiz and Marcelo, who all started in the semi-final, have somehow responded to the stunning defeat by playing well for their respective clubs.
Neymar has scored 40 goals in 58 matches for his country while the likes of Fred, Julio Cesar and Paulinho appear to have been ditched by Dunga, seemingly the scapegoats for the World Cup catastrophe.
Diego Tardelli has emerged as an unlikely star after scoring both the goals in the victory against Argentina.
The 29-year-old has spent most of his career in Brazil, apart from a brief loan spell with PSV Eindhoven and a disastrous time in Russia with Anzhi Makhachkala.
But he may well have been the sort of homegrown player Brazilian fans could have warmed to at the World Cup.