Brazil’s defenders, usually upstaged by the team’s flamboyant forwards, received lavish praise from coach Dunga when he announced his squad for next month’s World Cup qualifiers on Wednesday.
Brazil, who are due to visit Peru and host Uruguay, have conceded only five goals in their last eight competitive internationals and have kept clean sheets in the last three.
Juan and Lucio form the regular partnership at the heart of the Brazil defence but Dunga said all the defenders he had tested in his 15 months in charge had been up to scratch.
‘I’d go further to say that we’ve found the ideal couple,’ said Dunga. ‘You can easily find 10 or 15 top level defenders. All the ones I’ve picked have lived up to expectations.
‘We Brazilians have tended to worry about this area in the past, but now we are exporting defenders and goalkeepers as well and this makes me happy.’
Dunga made only one change to his 22-man squad, replacing central defender Alex Silva with Naldo.
‘The players who were picked last time did well so we’ve kept the squad,’ said Dunga. ‘We don’t have much time to train so we have to keep a base, a structure.’
Brazil began the qualifying campaign for the 2010 finals by drawing 0-0 in Colombia and thrashing Ecuador 5-0 this month.
They face Peru in Lima on Nov. 18 and welcome old rivals Uruguay in Sao Paulo three days later.
Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar (Inter Milan), Doni (AS Roma)
Defenders: Maicon (Inter Milan), Daniel Alves (Sevilla), Alex Costa (Chelsea), Juan (AS Roma), Lucio (Bayern Munich), Gilberto (Hertha Berlin), Kleber (Santos), Naldo (Werder Bremen)
Midfielder: Gilberto Silva (Arsenal), Josue (VfL Wolfsburg), Mineiro (Hertha Berlin), Fernando (Girondins Bordeaux), Diego (Werder Bremen), Elano (Manchester City), Kaka (AC Milan), Julio Baptista (Real Madrid)
Forwards: Robinho (Real Madrid), Ronaldinho (Barcelona), Vagner Love (CSKA Moscow), Afonso (Heerenveen)