Brazil were sent crashing out of the Copa America Centenario on Sunday night, losing 1-0 to Peru in Foxborough, Massachusetts, thanks to Raul Ruidiaz’s punched goal.
The Peru star handled the ball to knock it over the line and the victory saw Brazil pushed down to third in Group B and therefore eliminated from the tournament.
Sportsmail answers the key questions after their defeat, from whether the coach, Dunga, will be forced out, to just what is going wrong with a once-great footballing nation.
The goal was a complete joke. So were Brazil unlucky?
Of course they were, regarding the goal itself, with Ruidiaz using some kind of volleyball move to get it over the line. Then, given the officials debated over what happened for nearly four minutes, you’d expect them at least to reach the right decision, but they got it woefully wrong.
And yet, Brazil weren’t unlucky to have been eliminated from the tournament. In the first game against Ecuador, which they drew 0-0, their opponents had a perfectly legal goal unfairly ruled out – they could easily have lost that match. Overall they didn’t play well enough against Ecuador or Peru, the two teams which progressed, to merit reaching the quarter-finals. The one good performance came in an emphatic 7-1 victory over Haiti. Then again, it was just Haiti.
Raul Ruidiaz punches the ball into the net to give Peru victory and dump Brazil out of the Copa America
The officials debated for four minutes but failed to reach the correct decision
Is being knocked out in the group stage humiliating for the Selecao?
Yes, absolutely. This is the first time they’ve failed to make it out of the group since 1987, a full 12 tournaments ago. They failed to score in two of their matches and ramming home seven in the other one shouldn’t disguise the way they struggle to create clear-cut chances against tougher opponents.
Dani Alves and Miranda said it best in the mixed zone after the game. The latter explained: ‘We came here looking for the title, and once again we leave disappointed as all Brazilians are.’ Alves added: ‘It is a fact that Brazil has achieved nothing in our last major competitions, and there are no arguments against that. It is disappointing to us, representing the Brazilian team. Personally I am very competitive, so going through this is unacceptable to me as a competitor.’
Brazil trudge off the field after losing to Peru and making an early exit from the Copa America
Does it really matter? They didn’t bring Neymar because they wanted him for the Olympic Games.
It does matter, but a little less than usual because of the Rio Games later this summer. Because it’s in their country and they have never won a gold medal in the football before, Dunga’s main task this summer was to win that competition. The pressure on him now to do that will be immense.
The Copa America Centenario was still important though. The truth is, even if Dunga wins the Olympics you can still see Brazil parting ways with him afterwards, with this Copa humiliation a big part of that, along with the bad performances in World Cup 2018 qualifying fixtures.
A little mitigation is the problems Brazil had at this tournament. Six players pulled out, including Douglas Costa, Luiz Gustavo and Kaka among others. Neymar was not an option, because Barcelona insisted he only played in one summer event. Then there was the changing of training venues for outside events at the Copa itself – a campus shooting at UCLA and torrential rain in Orlando.
It’s not as bad as that 7-1 World Cup semi-final mauling by Germany though.
No, although in some ways you might say that it is. That was bad because it was a World Cup held in Brazil, a savage beating, and also a total shock. Nowadays seeing the Selecao suffer has become normal and this is a hugely disappointing thing in itself.
The defeat comes two years after the 7-1 mauling by Germany in the World Cup
Should they have re-hired Dunga after Luiz Felipe Scolari left following the World Cup?
The answer then was no, and the answer now is no too, in bold. It was always viewed as a strange decision, looking backwards not forwards, and the coach’s behaviour since taking the job has emphasised that.
A master of the counter-attack, Brazil’s performances under Dunga have upset football fans all over the world. They shouldn’t be criticised from straying from their previously loved style of play if the new way gets results, but it clearly has not worked.
At this Copa America, Dunga started to change his ways, with Renato Augusto a good, ball-playing central midfielder. Against Peru he gambled, with Lucas Lima playing as a No 10 instead of the suspended Casemiro, while his natural instinct would have been to pick defensive midfielder Walace. But it was too little, too late, and then he reneged on it in the second half anyway, with Brazil shutting up shop – but the doors weren’t shut well enough.
Dunga’s side did dominate the early stages, with Philippe Coutinho and Willian running amok and Gabriel Barbosa a threat in the middle, but they ceded the initiative to Peru after that.
Dunga has come under fierce criticism during his second stint as Brazil’s manager
Gabriel Barbosa, ‘Gabigol’ they call him. Is he Brazil’s future?
It seems that way. It’s not completely bleak for Brazil; they are still creating talented players. Gabriel scored against Haiti and came close against Peru. He looked more lively than Benfica striker Jonas who started the first two games. With Neymar back and Coutinho growing into a key role, Brazil definitely have hope in the years to come. What they need is a coach who can harness their creative talent while still maintaining discipline at the back.
So who should replace Dunga?
Jorge Sampaoli was touted in some quarters, the coach who took Chile to the Copa America title in 2015. However, firstly he is Argentine, and having someone from Brazil’s fiercest international rivals coach the team is a bone of contention. And secondly, he’s set to replace Unai Emery as Sevilla manager.
Dunga is quite lucky there are no obvious options to replace him, otherwise he might already be out of a job. Corinthians’ Tite is the best bet, although in April he said ‘the only thing I can say is that I am very happy at Corinthians’, in response to repeated calls for him to take over.
Gabriel Barbosa (right) did emerge as a bright spark during an otherwise bleak Copa America