FOOTBALL legend Pele is just one of a host of footballing heavyweights who have not let up in their criticism of Brazil's playing style under coach Carlos Dunga ahead of the Selecao's quarterfinal clash today against the Netherlands.
"Today's team is mainly based on a counter-attacking style but rarely dominates," Pele said.
"The strength of spirit needed to maintain ball possession and always be in control against the opponent is lacking."
Dutch legend Johan Cruyff is also questioning Brazil's tactics in South Africa, asking where the "magic" has gone, while Germany's Franz Beckenbauer claimed before the tournament that under Dunga the South Americans had lost their attacking verve.
But in his defence, the 46-year-old coach can point to the fact that Brazil have one of the best defensive records in the tournament- conceding just two goals in four matches.
While purists may bemoan what they see as the demise of Brazil's "Joga Bonito" ("beautiful play) philosophy, Dunga's version of a controlled "beautiful game" is reaping dividends. Intrinsic to Dunga's new variant of Brazilian football is the central defensive pairing of Lucio and Juan, flanked by Maicon and Michel Bastos. In front of these four, Dunga likes to deploy holding midfielders Felipe Melo and veteran Gilberto Silva as extra cover.
But with Melo a doubt for the Dutch game because of a knee injury and normal replacement Ramires suspended, there could be a call-up for the diminutive Josue.
Juan admits that Brazil have placed greater emphasis on defence since Dunga took over after the 2006 World Cup in Germany, but the AS Roma defender dismisses suggestions that their style runs counter to the country's football tradition.
"No team at this World Cup plays an uncontrolled attacking game that leaves them open at the back," he said. "For Dunga, defenders are just as important as strikers. That wasn't always the case." - Sapa