COMMENT: The Selecao will be disappointed with their showing but will take positives from the way they roared back from two goals down in Asuncion
After giving up a two-goal lead to Uruguay in Recife on Friday, Brazil saw their fortunes reversed on Tuesday as a dramatic late Dani Alves goal saw the Selecao battle back from 2-0 down against Paraguay in Asuncion.
A disappointing first half for the five-time world champions saw Edgar Benítez give the hosts a well-deserved lead before Brazil’s second-half plans went out the window when Dario Lezcano doubled Paraguay’s advantage shortly after the break.
But coach Dunga made a number of positive substitutions, shifting his shape into a more expansive system that saw Ricardo Oliveira pull one back before Dani Alves rescued a point right at the death.
Below, Brasil Global Tour looks back at five major talking points from the game.
With Diego Alves’ return from injury, Internacional goalkeeper Alisson found his place as Brazil’s No.1 under pressure this week, particularly with local commentators still calling for the return of Jefferson.
But against Parguay, Alisson lived up to his billing as the Selecao’s last line of defence, making a number of fine stops to keep Brazil in the game as they came under intense pressure in the first-half. This week felt like a vital one for Alisson’s international future, and he emerged as Brazil’s undisputed No.1.
Brazil were second-best for the first 45 minutes in Asuincion, struggling both to retain possession and to contain the runners charging forward from the Paraguayan midfield. They went into the break thankful to only be one goal behind, but Dunga made a number of changes in the second period, shifting his shape from a defensive 4-1-4-1 to an all-out attacking 4-3-3. His side ended the game without a single defensive midfielder in the team as Hulk and then Lucas Lima arrived to add more thrust to the attack.
Dunga has faced criticism over his reluctance to make wholesale changes during games, but his uncharacteristic attacking moves ultimately paid dividends.
At 2-0 down and struggling to make any real impact with the ball, there were times when the jig looked up for Brazil. The second goal felt like it might be the match-winner, with media already speculating on the coach’s future and assessing how South America’s qualification table will look a second defeat for the Selecao. But Dunga’s side rallied, throwing caution to the wind, becoming more physical, and showing the sort of grit and determination that has defined Dunga sides of the past.
While it most certainly felt like two points dropped against Uruguay on Friday, Dunga’s charges left Asuncion on Tuesday feeling like it was one gained. While they initially targeted nothing less than victory in the Paraguayan capital, they faced a side that has been much improved under Argentine coach Ramon Diaz and will be delighted with the way they reacted in the face of defeat.
Since World Cup 2014, Brazil have faced criticism that they are overly-reliant on captain Neymar. With the Barcelona star suspended after his yellow card against Uruguay, the Selecao had yet another chance to prove they could do without their on- and off-field leader.
The clash with Paraguay also provided another chance for Dunga to search out alternatives and the introduction of a traditional No.9 in the form of Ricardo Oliveira provided an outlet they previously lacked. Moreover, while few performed as well they would have hoped, the likes of Willian, Douglas Costa and Renato Augusto showed a willingness to take charge of the attack.