One last look back at what ifs for Dunga

May 9, 2010 at 9:37 pm Leave a comment

Only two days remain before Dunga’s call-up and though I love to pick my own teams as much as any Brazilian, I always settle on a pragmatic approach ahead of the cup. I’m not one to lobby for surprise inclusions or to drop X or Y player in favor of the flavor of the month. Before I retire my wishes though and focus on Dunga’s 23 and how they’ll look in the World Cup, let me share with you some of the more interesting what ifs I’ve gone over in my mind.

The first big what if is Ze Roberto. Having retired from national team duty after the 2006 World Cup Ze Roberto returned to Brazil for a season before playing at Bayern Munich again. Though he will be 36 this year I for one wish he had not retired, or perhaps had at least made himself available to Dunga recently. He was unfortunate to be underused in 1998 and under-appreciated in 2006 on a team where his humble personality did not fit. His attitude would probably be exactly what Dunga wants. His play, despite his age, would make him an excellent candidate to give our midfield some versatility on the left. Who knows, if he had been called up during this cycle Dunga might have been able to completely change his left-back approach and maybe granted other d-mids a chance by allowing Dunga to drop Gilberto Silva without sacrificing too much experience. This might have opened us up to Thiago Motta and others making it onto the squad.

I have to admit I was stunned when I read Tostao’s column (in Portuguese) today and found out he would call up Ze Roberto. He made no mention of Ze Roberto’s retirement, however Tostao is no friend of Dunga’s so this is not inside information, it is simply wishful thinking in the same vein as this post.

I wish I could turn back time and tell Ze Roberto not to retire. Of course if I could do that I’d tell Julio Baptista to go to a club that wouldn’t relegate him to the bench for the entire half-season ahead of the World Cup. Then again I’d tell Pato to shape up, Felipe Melo to keep his head and every left-footed Brazilian to make an effort to stand-out!

Let’s not go too far right? Here’s my next “reasonable but wishful” what if: What if Ganso and Neymar had broken out early last year? Yes, they both played in the Brasileirao for Santos last year and received a lot of praise, but with qualifiers done in October and Brazil qualifying 3 games early they were never in the picture. Ganso did play in the U-20 World Cup in November but he and Neymar reached another level this season with their performances in the Paulistao. Most commentators in Brazil are lobbying for their inclusion in Dunga’s list, some even go so far as to say they should start. If they had broken out in the Paulistao of 2009, they would have gotten a chance by now with the national team. We could have a quality sub for Kaka in Ganso, someone who would also be a frontrunner to lead the team in 2014, and a back-up forward that would plug into the team easily as he plays with Robinho on a regular basis.

Several players in Brazil could make a what if list. Sandro and Hernanes might be locks if they had been on the scene just a tad earlier and therefore picked more often. We might have more left-back options. We might even have a beautiful, flowing attacking style if you believe a few writers. Enough with the absurd, way out there what ifs, let’s get back to wishful reasoning.

I’m hard-pressed to find my own third big what if. Some fans might say what if Ronaldo had returned from injury to be a hard-working veteran? While I would have liked that I am very happy with Luis Fabiano and find it hard to believe anyone could have done better. What if Dunga had more coaching experience or we had seen another coach picked? Likely we’d still play a 4-4-2 and who knows, we might even be stuck with a Kaka/Ronaldinho Gaucho pairing and that would kill our midfield options. Or if Dunga had failed we might have seen Scolari bail us out again and a 3-5-2 to make up for our lack of a left-back.

In less than two days Brazil will announce the World Cup squad. There will be plenty of questions, especially from those outside of Brazil. Most likely people will wonder why players like Josue and Julio Baptista are in and Ronaldinho or others are out. And if Dunga makes any surprise call-ups, no matter how wanted they are, there will be plenty of questioning in Brazil. One thing that Brazil’s record under Dunga does though is to make it more difficult to inject doubt into this team’s mindset.

In two days, 23 names. In two months, if Brazil wins the World Cup, it’ll be even more fantastic than anything the pundits would come up with. Let’s enjoy it.

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Entry filed under: Brazil.

Pra Frentre Brasil!

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