Firmino takes flight, Thiago Silva still has much to offer & five things we learned from Austria-Brazil

COMMENT: The Selecao made it six wins in a row since the World Cup with a hard-fought win at the Ernst Happel Stadion that underlined that the South Americans are back on track
Brazil maintained their momentum under new coach Dunga by defeating Austria in Vienna on Tuesday night.

The Selecao's sixth successive victory, in what was their final Gillette Brasil Global Tour fixture of 2014, represented another significant step on the road to redemption after a disappointing conclusion to their World Cup campaign and also ensured that the players can go into the New Year with confidence and belief restored.

On a cold and rainy night in Vienna, Brazil were unable to produce the free-flowing football that had rippted Turkey to shreds but, as GBGT outlines below, there were a number of positives for Dunga and his backroom staff ...

FIRST OF MANY GOALS FOR FIRMINO


Roberto Firmino left Brazil after just one season of senior football with Figueirense so his inclusion in the squad for the friendlies against Turkey caught many Selecao supporters by surprise. Indeed, few fans had any idea who he was. They know now, though.

After making an encouraging and confidence cameo appearance in Istanbul, Firmino well and truly announced himself to the Brazilian public with a stunning late winner in Vienna. Given how quickly the Hoffenheim attacking midfielder has taken to international football, it could be the first of many goals in the Selecao shirt for Firmino.

THIAGO SILVA HAS BEEN WELCOMED BACK INTO THE FOLD


Thiago Silva led Brazil at the World Cup but he missed Dunga's first four games as coach because of a thigh injury. By the time he was in a position to return to the Selecao set-up this month, Neymar had taken over the captain's armband while Miranda had replaced him as the preferred central defensive partner for David Luiz.

Consequently, Thiago Silva had been left feeling a little hard done by. However, when opportunity knocked following Miranda's injury-enforced withdrawal during the first half of Tuesday's game in Vienna, the former skipper stepped up to the mark, reminding everyone of his class and composure with an assured display at the back. Dunga's pre-planned decision to give Thiago Silva the armband when Neymar was replaced in the dying seconds also underlined that the new coach still has plenty of faith in the old captain.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

Dunga has spent plenty of time on the training ground working on set-pieces - both from an offensive and defensive perspective. On the evidence of Tuesday night, that long hours are starting to pay off. David Luiz's header proved that Brazil are capable of causing all sorts of problems in the opposition area.

However, of greater satisfaction to Dunga will be the way in which the Selecao defence defended the aerial threat posed by the Austrians. There were scares, no doubt, but Brazil held up particularly well under intense pressure in the closing stages.

BRAZIL'S SELF-BELIEF HAS BEEN RESTORED


This was one of the sternest tests Brazil have faced since the World Cup. The Austrians were not only technically impressive but also defensively aggressive. Consequently, the likes of Neymar and Oscar simply were not afforded the kind of time and space they capitalised on so clinically in Istanbul.

Therefore, it was tremendously encouraging to see Brazil respond well to the physicality of the hosts, while at the same time keeping their cool. Indeed, they demonstrated commendable patience and composure in eking out another win. Brazil no longer look like a side likely to fold under pressure.

DUNGA A LEADER OF MEN


Dunga reclaimed control of the Selecao at a very delicate time. He vowed to not only get Brazil back on track but restore the fans' faith in their national team. He took risks, showing a willingness to experiment by dropping some star names - and yet recalling others. Furthermore, he changed the team's tactics, making it clear that his preference was for a 'false nine', while at the same time exhibiting his flexibility by giving a debut to a more traditional centre-forward like Luiz Adriano.

Dunga has tried out 30 players, dealt wonderfully well with potential controversy and showed humility by calling up ex-pros to strengthen his back-room team. He has given Brazil a new look. The year 2014 will be remembered for all the wrong reasons for Brazil but, thanks to Dunga, 2015 looks a whole lot brighter.