Brazil went into Friday's World Cup quarterfinal against Holland with the following retrospective over the last two years -- 23 wins, 5 draws and just one defeat, with 69 goals scored and 17 conceded.
During this run, coach
In the first 45 minutes in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, many all over the planet must have believed that they were watching the future world champions. The Brazilians gave a master class. It took them less than 10 minutes to take advantage of the flat Dutch defensive line, with one of the moves that Dunga loves to train -- center forward
Perhaps, though, the first alarm bells should have been ringing. Why had the team not rammed home its superiority and put the game beyond the reach of the Dutch before halftime?
That, however, has not been the style of Dunga's Brazil. It loves to take the lead and then sit deep, drawing the opposition forward and then launching one of its lightning counterattacks. For Brazil, it was a game of patience.
Sitting deep does carry an inherent risk. A mistake can be costly, as it will take place close to goal. Brazil's back line -- goalkeeper
The wheels fell off at this point. Brazil was unable to get back into its first-half groove. The concept of "11 Dungas" became an enormous hindrance.
One of the major tasks of any coach is to set the emotional balance for his team. In this, at the highest level, Dunga was found sadly wanting. The signs were there in the press conference after the win over the Ivory Coast, when Dunga kept muttering insults under his breath at a TV journalist. Appointing the press as an enemy as a means to unite the team is one thing. But this looked more like a man unable to control his emotions -- an impression confirmed by his performance during the game against Holland.
Every decision against his team was greeted with a stream of expletives. He pounded the substitutes' bench in frustration. Uptight coach means uptight team.
On the field, Brazil collectively lost its head -- the most glaring symptom of which was Melo's red card for a horrible stamp on
Of course, there are tactical issues here. A central midfielder with the limited passing skills of
And there are selection issues as well. Dunga heaped responsibility on Robinho and
Dunga's critics in the Brazilian press -- and there are plenty of them -- will now argue that everything would have been different had
When a team loses, the best players are always those who did not play. Perhaps
Subjective judgments and preferences aside, the team Dunga took to the World Cup deserved to go. It had achieved two years of excellent results -- and played like it in the first half Friday. But not in the second, when Brazil's "11 Dungas" looked as emotionally unbalanced as their coach.