Rio de Janeiro: Brazil coach Dunga brought back veteran forward Robinho on Thursday as he named his squad for a pair of European friendlies against France on March 26 at the Stade de France and Chile on March 29 at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium. Dunga, who succeeded Luiz Felipe Scolari after Brazil's World Cup misadventure in July, said the idea is to blood a squad in advance of June's Copa America in Chile but with an eye on the longer term.
"It is all about blending youth with experience," said the man who skippered the Selecao's 1994 World Cup winning side. "Our main objective are the World Cup qualifiers (for Russia 2018) but before then we have the Copa America and two friendlies. The Selecao must build a winning mentality," he told reporters, saying he was "creating a base" of players looking to 2018.
He turned to old hand Robinho, formerly of Real Madrid, Manchester City and AC Milan but who spent last season on loan with Santos, as Zenit St Petersburg forward Hulk is injured.
Robinho did not make the World Cup squad but is back in favour with Dunga at the helm. With his team in action in Europe, Dunga felt free to call up his foreign legion of stars -- Paris Saint German defensive trio Thiago Silva, David Luiz and Marquinhos will enjoy a "home" game against the French -- as well as striker Diego Tardelli, who left Atletico Mineiro for China's Shandong Luneng at year's end. Another French-based player is 21-year-old Fabinho, who is having a stellar season at Monaco thus far.
Tardelli's inclusion meant no room for Luiz Adriano, who has been knocking in the Champions League goals for Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk. Only four of the squad are home-based -- Robinho, midfielder Elias of Corinthians and goalkeepers Jefferson and newcomer Marcelo Groeh of Gremio.
Dunga, a tough defensive midfielder who won 91 caps for the five-times world champions, is in his second spell as coach after his first ended with a quarter-final 2010 World Cup loss to Holland. Since he resumed the hotseat, Brazil have rattled up six friendly wins in six outings against Colombia, Equador, Argentina, Japan, Turkey and Austria, rattling in 14 goals in the process and conceding just one.
Dunga said he had been working on the players' confidence after their home World Cup ended in the fiasco of a 7-1 semi-final thrashing by Germany. "I have talked with the players, showing them their worth, that they are there on merit but that results only come with hard work.
That's why the squad is strong," Dunga insisted as he looks to move on from last year's flop which saw Brazil fail for a second time to win a home World Cup despite their achievements elsewhere.
Goalkeepers: Jefferson (Botafogo), Diego Alves (Valencia/ESP), Marcelo Groeh (Gremio)
Defenders: David Luiz (PSG/FRA), Marquinhos (PSG/FRA), Thiago Silva (PSG/FRA), Miranda (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Filipe Luas (Chelsea/ENG), Danilo (Porto/POR), Fabinho (Monaco/FRA), Marcelo (Real Madrid (ESP)
Midfielders: Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg/GER), Fernandinho (Manchester City/ENG), Elias (Corinthians), Souza (Sao Paulo), Oscar (Chelsea/ENG), Willian (Chelsea/ENG), Douglas Costa (Shakhtar Donetsk/UKR), Philippe Coutinho
Fowards: Neymar (Barcelona/ESP), Robinho (Santos), Roberto Firmino (Hoffenheim/GER), Diego Tardelli (Shandong Luneng/CHN)