Major outlets across Brazil hailed the Selecao’s tour of USA, praising Hulk, Douglas Costa and Rafinha as they were largely impressed by Dunga’s changes in North AmericaBrazil continued their post-World Cup 2014 100 per cent Chevrolet Brasil Global Tour record last week, defeating Costa Rica and USA in New Jersey and Boston respectively.
Against los Tocos, the Selecao triumphed with a narrow 1-0 victory at Red Bull Arena thanks to a single strike from the returning Hulk. Three days later, the Zenit forward once again hit the opening goal before Neymar came off the bench to inspire Dunga’s side to a comprehensive 4-1 victory at Gllette Stadium, with the Barcelona star hitting his 45th and 46th goals for his country.
The week in the USA saw a number of new arrivals to Dunga’s collective, as Santos playmaker Lucas Lima, Barcelona star Rafinha Alcantara and Gremio goalkeeper Marceo Grohe celebrated their international debuts. Bayern Munich’s Douglas Costa starred as he became a starter in Neymar’s absence from the first XI while Lucas Moura, claiming his first international appearances since 2013, also impressed.
And the wins earned widespread praise from the travelling Brazilian media pack.
Dunga experimented with captain Neymar – suspended for Brazi’s first two World Cup qualifiers – named among the substitutes in both matches. Hulk replaced Roberto Firmino as the team’s false no.9 and repaid Dunga’s faith with a goal in each game. In the second half against Costa Rica, Kaka, Lucas Moura and Rafinha came off the bench. The victory over USA, meanwhile, presented an unexpected chance for Paris Saint-Germain’s Marquinhos to impress after replacing the injured Miranda as a frist-half substitute.
UOL Journalist Paulo Vinicius Coelho wrote in his blog, "Dunga did well to test Brazil without Neymar in 75 minutes against Costa Rica and in 45 against USA, even if the overall perception after the friendly matches remains the same: This is one team with Neymar and another without him. His colleague Roberto Avallone reinforced those words: "Everything changed right away in the second half [against USA], when Neymar returned to the team, and with the no.10 the show resumed.”
Legendary journalist Juca Kfouri was disappointed that Dunga’s side weren’t more expansive after taking the lead against Costa Rica but highlighted the fine performance of Lucas Lima.
Dunga made it clear from his call-ups that these matches offered the opportunity to define the team that will compete in the World Cup qualifiers. The Selecao begin the race to Russia 2018 against Chile on October 18 in Santiago. The defending Copa America champions offer arguably Dunga’s biggest test of the qualifiers, with his decision to recall Kaka, Hulk, and Lucas Moura set to add invaluable experience to the group.
But despite the coach's plans to add some more experience to his squad, it is those approaching their prime (Willian, Lucas Lima, Lucas Moura, Douglas Costa and Danilo) who seem to have secured their places in the team. "(Brazil) deserved their results, with some changes made, and I enjoyed the arrival of Lucas [Moura]. He was very good, and Rafinha also did extremely well," said the former player Ricardo Rocha on SporTV.
O Globo’s Bernardo Mello listed the alternatives available to Dunga, both with and without Neymar, highlighting many of Dunga’s younger stars.
"In two friendlies, while Neymar did not start, Douglas Costa stepped up into the position which is usually reserved for the captain of the national team. The midfielder, who also operates on the left for Bayern Munich, sought to fill the void left by the Barcelona ace and didn’t disappoint," he wrote.
Goalscoring hero Hulk was also singled out for praise after making a triumphant return to the international scene.
"Without Neymar on the field it was Hulk who shook the USA. The Zenit striker, more used to playing from the flanks, did not show the presence of a penalty-box centre-forward, but helped push the ball forward and showed coolness in the final moments, his specialty. He is also a name to be observed much more often in this new position."
Former World Cup winner Tostao, now one of the most influential and erudite commentators in all of Brazil, labelled Dunga's side the 'Friendly champions', and highlighted that the counter-attacking style had proved fruitful in exhibition games. He is, however, hoping to see more overall control once the team return to competitive action.
Having found a number of possible solutions with the changes, a number of newspapers across the country underlined the fact that the likes of Miranda, David Luiz, Willian and Douglas Costa have become immovable from the squad, with the media content that Dunga’s supporting cast proved largely capable of stepping into the limelight in the absence of Brazil’s star attraction.