Brazil are finally finding the right balance eight months after being left traumatised by their World Cup debacle on home soil, Coach Dunga said after they beat France 3-1 on Thursday.
A 7-1 semi-final defeat by eventual world champions Germany, followed by a 3-0 loss to the Netherlands in third-place playoff left Brazil in tatters but Thursday’s friendly victory in Paris showed Dunga has put some self-belief back into the squad.
“I’m trying to give the players confidence after the World Cup and trying to find a balance,” Dunga, in charge since the finals following a stint from 2006-10, told a news conference.
Brazil have now won seven games in a row since their embarrassing World Cup exit, including on Thursday handing France their first defeat since the finals.
Oscar, Neymar and Luiz Gustavo gave Brazil an emphatic win at the Stade de France after Raphael Varane had opened the scoring for Les Bleus, benefiting from the visitors’ clumsy defending at set pieces.
Brazil were still a bit shaky at the back after going in level at 1-1 for the break but they proved too quick up front for the home side in the second half, with wingers Willian and Oscar tormenting the France fullbacks.
We played well and we tried to play with speed. We kept our shape well, we were compact,” said Dunga, who skippered Brazil to their 1994 World Cup title.
“We made some mistakes but once we got our balance right we were able to win the game.”
His France counterpart Didier Deschamps, the France captain when Les Bleus beat a Brazil team captained by Dunga 3-0 in the 1998 World Cup final, said the best team won.
“You can always do better but you have to accept that your opponent has quality, and they showed it tonight,” he told a news conference.
France had opportunities to level for 2-2 but Karim Benzema missed a golden chance by firing a volley high over the bar.
“We struggled to get our game going in attack, although we did well from set pieces,” said Deschamps, who had to cope without influential midfielder Paul Pogba who was injured.
“It’s always difficult when you’re 2-1 down but we reacted well. We had two or three chances to equalise but unfortunately we conceded that third goal.”