Brazil proved at the weekend what many in the footballing world already know: they are much too reliant on Neymar.
His absence may not have hurt them against a low-calibre team like Venezuela, but not having their star number 10 in the lineup against Paraguay was costly.
Aside from one well-executed attack, which resulted in a Robinho goal, Brazil looked virtually toothless in front of goal.
Creative, exciting football was a Brazilian trademark for many, many years. They perfected Jogo Bonito, the beautiful game, and racked up a record five World Cups in the process.
En route to being eliminated in the Copa America quarter-final on penalties by Paraguay, they displayed nothing that resembled the word beautiful. Instead, they played lifelessly and without intent; something you would expect from a run of the mill team not a team whose name has been synonymous with world-class football.
No excuses for Brazil
Would things have been different with their talismanic leader? Absolutely. However, that does not excuse them from performing at such a disappointing level.
When Neymar was suspended for the rest of the tournament, Brazil had a golden opportunity to show the world that they could do well without him. That opportunity went by the wayside.
A team full of highly talented players who ply their glamorous trade in the top European leagues like the Barclays Premier League, La Liga, Ligue 1, and the Bundesliga could do very little in the way of generating scoring opportunities.
Something is clearly wrong with that picture. There is an obvious disconnect between the talent-level of these players and their execution in the gold and blue jerseys of Brazil.
They allowed a Paraguayan team that does not have anywhere near the same embarrassment of talented riches that Brazil has to exchange blows with them and control large portions of the game.
What next for the Selecao?
As a result, the players passed up a chance to start erasing the painful memories of last year’s World Cup.
Going forward, Dunga must weigh his selections carefully if he wants to change the direction of his team.
Players like Robinho and Tardelli are clearly not the answers to an ailing attacking corps. The time is now to start searching for an out-and-out number nine who can provide consistent support for Neymar.
That will be the missing piece in the Brazilian puzzle, the final element which can restore their place atop the footballing world.
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