In the first in a series looking back at a year in the life of the Selecao, Brasil Global Tour revisits a tricky beginning to World Cup qualifying
2016 was a story of two halves for Brazil.
Around the world, debates were raging over whether the five-time world champions would ever reclaim their place among the pantheon of world football’s greatest international teams.
Still reeling from ‘the 7-1’, there was a general consensus throughout the local media that the team hadn’t made any real progress since their disastrous ending to World Cup 2014.
They year got off to a bad start as the Selecao resumed the marathon of Conmebol qualifying with two contrasting draws that were met unanimously with disappointment.
Though coach Dunga had yet to find any cohesive and apparent idea of play, the Selecao raced out of the traps against Uruguay in Recife.
They flew into a two-goal lead, with Douglas Costa and Renato Augusto on target. Neymar was flying, too. The tide appeared to have turned for Brazil. Two goals to the good after half an hour, the hosts looked set to stroll to a comfortable victory.
But then the wheels came off. Luis Suarez, back with Uruguay after nine months out through suspension, found his gear and Edinson Cavani pulled one back. Three minutes into the second half, Suarez equalised.
David Luiz was singled out for blame, and has not represented his country since. Meanwhile, another yellow card for Neymar saw him once again pick up a needless suspension.
Ney-less, the Brazil struggled from the outset against Paraguay and found themselves two goals down shortly after half-time.
Veteran striker Ricardo Oliveira pulled one back before Dani Alves hit a dramatic last-minute equaliser, but there would be no celebrations once the full-time whistle went.
Outside of the last qualificaiton slot in South America, the Selecao were in trouble - and the pressure was mounting on Dunga.