Dunga refuses to be swayed from cautious path for Chile challenge

Pele is not someone with a lot of poetry in his soul; he reserved that for his boots and it is probably time for Brazil to forget the one memorable phrase he ever uttered. Dunga is not going to indulge himself in
O Jogo Bonito.

He was six when Brazil won the 1970 tournament and he was just beginning his career as a professional footballer when Tele Santana's superlative team were fatally undermined by Paolo Rossi in Barcelona. Their holding midfielders, such as they were, proved unable to cope and that was a position Dunga would play. Some say he learnt the lesson. When he captained Brazil to the 1994 World Cup, there was not a trace of the beautiful game and the 700 Brazilian journalists who swarm around the Selecao's training centre near Johannesburg are wasting their breath if they expect a conversion at this stage of the World Cup.

Four years ago, in Germany, Brazil held open house with Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos expected to hang around until two in the morning so their interviews could be carried live on Brazilian television. Many thought it added to the already overwhelming strain that these footballers are expected to bear and it was noticeable that when Maicon finally broke through North Korea's stubborn defence at Ellis Park in the opening group match, he burst into tears.

Perhaps everything the purist detests about Dunga's Brazil was on display in Durban as what should have been one of the epic contests of this World Cup dissolved into a bitter goalless draw. It was Brazil's first in 24 games and their first in a World Cup since 1978 when a side coached by Claudio Coutinho, who emphasised physical fitness over artistry and dropped Rivelino because he was supposedly overweight, stumbled through their group in Mar del Plata. Dunga was, however, without the admittedly stuttering Kaka after his ludicrous dismissal against Ivory Coast, while Elano's shins, protected by pads bearing the names of his two daughters, were still recovering from the impact of Cheik Tiote's tackle.

In Durban, Dunga omitted Robinho's fluid skills for the earthier talents of Nilmar, who may keep his place against Chile tonight if for no other reason that he scored a hat-trick against them in qualification 10 months ago.

And it was in qualification, rather than this World Cup, where Chile most impressed. The tournament has been seen as a personal quest for their manager, Marcelo Bielsa, who has never forgiven himself for failing to take his native Argentina beyond the group stages in 2002: "The scar will never fade," he said.

He may have given Chile their first World Cup victory since 1962, when they were beaten in the semi-finals by a Brazilian side pivoted around the brilliance of Garrincha and Vava, but his demeanour after their defeat by Spain in the Loftus Versfeld suggested they had thrown away an opportunity to top the group and avoid a team against whom his adopted nation have a serious inferiorty complex. In 65 enounters between the two sides, Chile have won seven times and the last of those was a decade ago. "To celebrate qualification superimposed on defeat creates ambivalance," was his studied attitude after the final whistle in Pretoria – from a man who could have been a lawyer had football not come calling.

Even without the weight of history bearing down on his team, the performance against Spain, who knew they had to win to survive, was chaotic. Whoever Dunga choses to partner Luis Fabiano in attack will face a Chilean back four stripped of its two regular centre-halves, Gary Medel and Waldo Ponce, and midfielder Marco Estrada, whose early dismissal in Pretoria deprived his team of the platform from which they could mount a serious comeback.

Nevertheless, Bielsa, who was known as "The Madman" in Argentina for his obsessive attention to detail – such as striding out to measure the pitch before kick-off – will not abandon the attacking principles that saw Chile score more times in qualification than Brazil, any more than Dunga will toss away his philosophy. "In today's football caution is virtue and daring is not well thought of," he said. But in Johannesburg tonight the odds are still on the triumph of caution.

Brazil v Chile

Today, 7.30pm, ITV1

News
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
businessUber, Snapchat and Facebook founders among those on the 2015 Forbes Billionaire List
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
News
Homer’s equation, in an episode in 1998, comes close to the truth, as revealed 14 years later
science
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003