Dunga’s side secured their eighth successive victory since last year’s World Cup as Roberto Firmino came off the bench to seal a 1-0 win over south American rivals Chile in a feisty friendly at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium on Sunday.
It was far from the most fluent performance of Dunga’s second spell in charge of the Selecao.
But, after showcasing their dazzling skills in Thursday’s 3-1 win against France in Paris, Brazil had to display the less glamourous side of their game against Chile as they delivered the kind of steely display that deserted them when they crumbled to a 7-1 defeat against Germany in the World Cup semi-finals.
That agonising loss on home soil sent the football-crazed nation into a prolonged period of mourning, but disciplinarian Dunga, employing the same no-nonsense style as a manager that served him so well as a player, has quickly restored some pride in the beleaguered Selecao.
He refuses to accept plaudits for Brazil’s revival over the last eight months and insists it is the positive attitude of his players, many of whom didn’t feature in the Germany massacre, that has been the catalyst for the quick turnaround.
“I’m happy with the players and with how they are dealing with everything after the World Cup. They are working very hard,” Dunga said.
“They know the responsiblity they have when they play with the national team. They are determined to change what happened in the past.
“At the moment they are still learning my methods, but as they play with each other more and more that will disappear and they will start to gel.”
– Bitter memories –
Although Brazil’s winning streak has been a major boost, Dunga knows they need success on an international stage before they can completely banish the bitter memories of the Germany meltdown.
The first opportunity comes in June when the Selecao travel to Chile for the Copa America, a competition that Dunga regards as a major test of his team’s progress.
“Yes, it will definitely be very difficult,” he said. “The south American teams are a lot stronger because there are a lot of players in Europe now and that makes the competition tougher than ever.
“This was the last chance before the Copa America to try out some players. The risk was worth it to see how they work with my methods.
“We played well in France, then made six changes to that side and were still very stable against a good Chile team.
“At the moment we are building a competitive team that is working to overcome obstacles very well.”
Dunga refused to criticise referee Martin Atkinson, who failed to send off Chile midfielder Gary Medel for a stamp on Brazil captain Neymar.
“That is a decision the ref must make. There are a lot of cameras covering everything, so you just need to play football. The players were very much protected (by the referee),” he said.
Instead, he focused on the performance of Firmino, the Hoffenheim attacking midfielder who staked his claim for a Copa America starting place with a dynamic second half cameo capped by his 72nd minute winner.
“We have analysed him for a very long time,” Dunga said.
“He’s been eased into the team slowly. He can score goals, but there is still a lot of time to decide the Copa line-up.”
Although Chile will go into the Copa with three defeats in their last four matches, coach Jorge Sampaoli took heart from the way they competed against Brazil.
“We played well. I’m pleased with my players. Not many teams get to dominate Brazil, so that’s why I’m calm,” he said.
“We are in a good way. We are on course to do well at the Copa America.”