Copa America 2015; Why Brazil Has Been Unstoppable Since World Cup Debacle
Almost one year ago, Brazil endured the most embarrassing of defeats when it was annihilated 7-1 by Brazil at home in the World Cup semifinals.
But right after that game, the team lost 3-0 against a very good Dutch side that made the host nation wallow in its misery.
That would make the end of Luis Felipe Scolari's term with the national side.
Brazil needed a new direction, but no one was convinced by the ensuing coach - Dunga. The former Brazilian hero had been a manager leading up to the 2010 World Cup, but his defensive style and the team's failure in South Africa ultimately led to his being fired.
However, this time Dunga's defense worked wonders for a team that already has a tremendous amount of offensive talent.
And the result of Dunga's tenure? Eight straight wins since he has taken over.
Here is why Brazil has been so solid and dominant since Dunga has returned.
Defense, Defense, Defense
Here is a number that says it all - two. That is the number of goals that Brazil has conceded in its eight games under Dunga. Those goals came against France in the recent 3-1 win and in a 2-1 win over Austria. Otherwise, the team has simply been untouchable on the defensive side of the ball.
The team has played South American sides in four of the eight wins and has shut out every single one of its continental rivals, something that bodes well heading into the Copa America this summer.
The World Cup's center back pairing featured Thiago Silva and David Luiz. Everyone knows that Luiz is a liability on defense and that his greatest asset is moving forward. Silva was seen as the leader of the side, the man capable of providing balance for Luiz, something proven in the Germany game. But Silva was woeful against the Dutch and Dunga decided that he had seen enough.
In the eight games, there has been one man to consistently play in that central pairing and his name is Miranda. The Atletico Madrid defender is a key cog in the middle of the pitch and is undoubtedly the finest at his position in his country.
Neymar Embraces Captaincy
There was a lot of controversy around Neymar being handed the armband despite Silva still being eligible to play on the national side. But there should be no doubt that the Barcelona star, despite being 23, is the heart and soul of his squad and has been nothing if not dominant since being the made the main man of the national side.
In the eight games under Dunga, Neymar has eight goals and three assists. Of course, four goals came in a 4-0 rout of Japan, but that production is undeniably remarkable for any player. To average a goal per game anywhere is considered elite production, and that is only further magnified on international duty.
Neymar now has a whopping 43 goals in just 62 games for Brazil; he still has a long way before reaching Pele's 77, but his 0.71 goals per game is the fourth-best rate among the top 10 scorers in the national side's history. More importantly, he is only 23 and could still have another six to seven good years on the national side. Over the last four years, he has averaged 14-15 games for the national side per year. If he continues playing at that rate, he would have another 84 games for the national side (bringing his total to around 146); if he scores near his current rate (maybe 0.6 goals per game), he would score another 50 goals for the national side, making him Brazil's top scorer by a healthy margin. Even at a rate of 0.5 goals per game, Neymar would have 85 goals on the national side, eight more than Pele.