Brazil still formidable but not so skilful

The style developed during nearly four years of coach Dunga's leadership has proved brutally effective, with the team winning the Copa America, Confederations Cup and topping the 10-team South American qualifying group for the World Cup.

It is though about as far removed from Brazil's original game of long, almost languid build-ups followed by quick bursts of attack as it is possible to get.

"Brazil, which has always been the country of attacking football and pressure, is now the country of defense and a powerful counter-attack," wrote former Brazil striker Tostao after a 4-0 win in Uruguay in a World Cup qualifier.

"That Brazilian football which is admired all around the world for its touch, for exchanging passes and dominating the game, no longer exists.

"Now, it's a game of tough marking and counter-attacks -- often brilliantly carried out."

Dunga has packed his squad for South Africa with defensive midfielders, leaving out striker Adriano and former World Player of the Year Ronaldinho and ignoring pressure to call up youngsters Paulo Henrique Ganso and Neymar.

"Being conservative has brought results since the start," Dunga told reporters after announcing the squad. "We're not going to change everything in 15 days just because some people want us to."

Brazil have been slowly moving toward a more physical, European game since their stylish 1982 and 1986 teams failed to bring home the trophy.

Their players are among the biggest and most powerful in the world, the team featuring strapping figures such as defenders Maicon, Lucio and Luisao, midfielders Felipe Melo and Julio Baptista and striker Luis Fabiano.

Maicon, in particular, can be a terrifying sight for opponents as he charges down the right and Dunga's team are also a formidable prospect at set pieces.

Frequently during the qualifying campaign, opponents seemed to be dominating the game only to find themselves a couple of goals behind after being stung by two quick counterattacks.

The match in Montevideo was a classic example as Uruguay won 15 corners to Brazil's two -- and lost 4-0.

Even when opponents do create chances, they find their way blocked by Julio Cesar, one of the world's top goalkeepers.

On the other hand, Brazil have immense difficulty when faced with opponents who pack their defences, and they were held to goalless draws at home to Bolivia, Colombia and Venezuela during the qualifying campaign.

On those occasions, Dunga's tactics were found wanting as he failed to add spice to his starting line-up, just bringing on yet another strapping forward or midfielder.

Brazil face Portugal, Ivory Coast and North Korea in a tough Group G at the finals. Fans have grudgingly accepted the new philosophy while it brings success but, if it fails, Dunga will not be forgiven in a hurry.

(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Robert Woodward and Clare Fallon)