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French stress test for Brazil work in progress

23 March 2015, 18:44

Rio de Janeiro - Nine months on from their World Cup drubbing by Germany, Dunga's new look Brazil team remains a work in progress but a Thursday test at the Stade de France may give an indication of how far they have moved on.

If understandably Dunga has made the next World Cup in Russia his priority the Selecao have two tests over the coming months to build a platform in the shape of the Copa America in June and next summer's Olympic Games in Rio.

Also read: Blatter faces tough crowd at UEFA meeting

"The World Cup qualifiers are our priority. Before then, we have two friendly matches to look forward to and then the Copa America" starting June 11 in Chile, a country the Brazilians will face three days after the French match at the Emirates Stadium in London.

The Copa will be Dunga's first competitive games since taking the helm of the five-time world champions for a second time following six friendly match victories.

His first spell ended with a 2010 World Cup quarter-final elimination to the Netherlands but before that he did steer the squad to a Copa win in 2007 and the Confederations Cup two years later.

Against France, Dunga's mean-looking defence was to have had a decidedly Gallic flavour but Paris Saint-Germain stars David Luiz and Marquinhos have both withdrawn through injury although clubmate Thiago Silva and Monaco's Fabinho are included.

Corinthians centre back Gil and Arsenal's central defender Gabriel Paulista meanwhile come into the squad. Paulista's call-up is his first and he will hope to feature in particular at his Emirates club ground against the Chileans.

Robinho back on board

While looking to bring on new names Dunga has an evident soft spot for striker Robinho, 31 and now enjoying himself once again at Santos after a loan move from AC Milan.

Dunga maintains that "you have to blend youth and experience."

Diego Tardelli had been earmarked as centre forward despite his move to Chinese outfit Shandong Luneng but injury means a call for Shakhtar Donetsk striker Luiz Adriano, top Champions League marksman this season with nine goals.

One face missing for now is young attacking midfielder Felipe Anderson, despite good form for Lazio.

Dunga has made Barcelona star Neymar skipper in place of Thiago Silva, indicating that "we need new leaders and he loves challenges. The more responsibility he gets the more he will evolve."

Dunga has a lingering unhappy memory of the Stade de France as Brazil head to the City of Light.

He hoped to lift the World Cup there but instead Brazil slumped to a Zinedine Zidane-inspired France in the 1998 final.

Nine of the Brazilians likely to feature Thursday were in the squad humiliated by Germany in July.

But "there is no point in embarking on wholesale changes we have quality players," Dunga insists.

He himself retains a love-hate relationship with Brazilian observers who regarded him as a player and as a coach as more about functionality than flair.

"People talk to me about football-as-art. But what does that mean? A great save by a keeper is art. Winning possession is also an art.

"You won't find a Pele on every street corner."

Solitary superstar

With seven goals in six games for Dunga, Neymar is the sole true standout in the current squad.

"Today, nobody really stands out Neymar excepted. It disturbs people to see that happen with Brazilian football," Dunga conceded earlier this month, aware the fans crave success delivered by artistes.

The generation behind the current one does not yet augur for greater things with the under-20 side having missed a South American championships podium finish earlier this year.



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