Brazil football team not built around Neymar, says Carlos Dunga

Brazil coach has respect for opponents in last eight of Copa America as well as his counterpart Ramon Diaz.

Dunga does not expect Brazil's quarter-final match against Paraguay to be an easy one. Andres Stapff / Reuters
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Brazil coach Dunga has revealed he is good friends with his Paraguay counterpart, Ramon Diaz, but said only one of them will be in the mood to celebrate after their Copa America quarter-final on Saturday.

“Ramon is an experienced coach, he’s enjoyed success at many different places, such as River Plate and Monaco,” Dunga said on Sunday after his side’s 2-1 win over Venezuela, which earned them top spot in Group C.

“He’s my friend, we’ve shared good dinners together. He’s special. As a player he had a special talent, and now as a coach he’s doing a very good job.

“It’ll be a finely balanced match. It’ll be like a final.”

The two sides will meet in the southern Chilean city of Concepcion in a repeat of the 2011 quarter-final, which Paraguay won on penalties after holding Brazil to a goalless draw.

Dunga shrugged off comparisons with that encounter and said he could not change the past.

“We can’t go back in time. What happened at the last Copa America happened. We weren’t there, we’re here now,” he said.

Brazil could not afford to take their opponents lightly, particularly since they had proved themselves by fighting back from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Argentina in their group.

“Paraguay showed their strength against Argentina in their first match,” Dunga said.

He said he was pleased with the way his side had played against Venezuela despite the absence of striker Neymar, who has been suspended for the rest of the tournament for his role in a fracas at the end of Brazil’s second group game against Colombia.

Dunga fielded Robinho in Neymar’s place and, for much of the game, the Brazilians played with a fluidity they had lacked against Colombia.

“We always work on the basis that a team cannot be based around just one player,” Dunga said. “I think Brazil will play better as the tournament goes on – each time with more confidence.”

Thiago Silva had given Brazil the early lead against Venezuela and a goal from Roberto Firmino six minutes after half time appeared to have sealed the victory.

But substitute Miku pulled back a goal for the Venezuelans with six minutes remaining to cause the Brazilians some late tension before they could celebrate.

Silva said he was pleased with how the side had reacted to losing to Colombia in their previous game and also the suspension of Neymar. “The best thing today is we had a very cohesive team,” he said.

“Football is played this way, as a team.

“If you are an individual player you can lose focus on the collective effort. Neymar is missed, he won’t play any more in this Copa America. We played for him but in a different way.”

Group C’s other game on Sunday ended in a goalless draw between Colombia and Peru, a result that was enough for both sides to qualify for the knockout stages.

The teams both finished on four points, with Peru taking second spot on the back of scoring two goals in the group stages compared to Colombia’s one.

Colombia qualify as one of the best two third-placed sides, along with Uruguay, while Ecuador, who were third in Group A, are the team to miss out.

Colombia will play Argentina in their quarter-final match in Vina del Mar on Friday, while Peru take on Bolivia in Temuco on Thursday.

The quarter-finals begin on Wednesday with tournament hosts Chile facing defending champions Uruguay in Santiago.

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