PARIS, France, March 27 – Brazil coach Dunga was delighted with the character shown by his side as they came from behind to beat France 3-1 in a friendly in Paris on Thursday to continue their impressive post-World Cup form.
The Selecao recovered from falling behind to a Raphael Varane header in the first half at the Stade de France to equalise through Oscar just prior to half-time, before goals from captain Neymar and Luiz Gustavo in the second period secured the victory.
Brazil have now won seven consecutive friendly matches since Dunga was appointed as coach for a second time last year to replace Luiz Felipe Scolari, under whom they suffered that infamous 7-1 loss to Germany in the World Cup semi-finals on home soil.
And this result, against a France team who have impressed of late under Didier Deschamps, was arguably the best win yet for Dunga in his second spell in charge.
“It’s difficult to play France here in a packed stadium. In football you win and lose, but it’s always good to win against a team as strong as them,” said Dunga, who was back at the ground where he captained Brazil in their 3-0 defeat to France in the 1998 World Cup final.
“As Brazil we have to win and play well, and the team played well. We broke out quickly and had good possession, but nothing was perfect,” added the coach after his team recovered from a shaky start in which they conceded from a set-piece.
“We made mistakes that could have been avoided. We know that France are very strong at set-pieces, but once we rectified that we found a balance that allowed us to win the match.”
Dunga is overseeing a period of transition as Brazil build towards the Copa America in Chile in June.
Only two members of his starting line-up against France — Oscar and Luiz Gustavo — started in that defeat to Germany, although six of his side were in the squad at last year’s World Cup.
– ‘Handle the pressure’ –
Dunga, who also skippered Brazil when they won the World Cup in 1994 and coached the team that lost in the last eight in South Africa in 2010, insisted that his squad for this match and this weekend’s friendly with Chile in London was by no means certain to remain the same come the Copa America.
“We have spoken a lot to the players, telling them that if they are here it is because they deserve to be here and because we believe in them,” he said.
“It’s always good to win, but winning is the only option for us and we need to be able to handle that pressure.
“Today was a really, really difficult match, because it was against France and we hadn’t played or seen each other for three months.”
The French will move on to another home match with Denmark on Sunday in Saint-Etienne after suffering a first defeat in a friendly encounter since a 3-0 loss in Brazil in June 2013.
Coach Deschamps, who was missing goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris as well as midfield duo Paul Pogba and Yohan Cabaye, admitted the result was a blow.
“When you are on a good run losing like this is always a blow. They were more clinical than us,” said Deschamps, whose side are building towards Euro 2016 on home soil.
“We can’t be satisfied at conceding three goals, even if we acknowledge the quality of the opposition.
“We hadn’t lost for a while, but it was a top-level game full of quality against one of the top teams. Matches like this give us a chance to find out how we get on in adversity.”