PORT ELIZABETH: For a team that was supposed to founder in the first round and that has come under attack for its reliance on style over substance, Dunga`s boys from Brazil aren`t doing too badly.
Dunga`s class of 2010 head into Friday`s World Cup quarter-final clash against the Netherlands seemingly coming to the boil at just the right time.
But the 1994 World Cup winning skipper`s pragmatic approach has not pleased detractors who yearn for the return of `o jogo bonito` (the beautiful game).
Individuals like Pele, Gerson, Zico and Ronaldo intoxicated the world with their talent, and the Selecao`s supporters crave for a repeat of that golden era.
Brazil are now just three games away from achieving a sensational sixth title, which is a good deal closer than former skipper Socrates thought they would get.
Socrates captained a side that was big on entertainment and low on results, losing out to Italy in the quarter-finals at the 1982 World Cup.
He called Dunga`s team "an affront to our culture".
"(There is) this focus on staying power, which is alien to us traditionally," he argued.
Socrates, even if Brazil were to win their sixth World Cup, said he would "take no pleasure in seeing the team play in this fashion".
And to add insult to injury he added: "I am very worried they will have difficulty getting past the opening phase."
Those comments came before Brazil`s World Cup campaign began, and Dunga and his team have proved him wrong on several counts.
Not only are Brazil past the group stage and facing a last eight date with Holland, the side that created `total football`, they are also showing dashes of style with dollops of substance.
For Brazil though the contention that they may be lacking in the style department doesn`t lose them much sleep.
Full-back Maicon, author of Brazil`s first goal at the 2010 World Cup, a sublime tight-angled shot against North Korea, stated before the competition commenced: "I want to be a champion - whether or not Brazil turn on the jogo bonito.
"Whether you turn on the style or play ugly, the important thing is that come July 11, Brazil are in the final."
Striker Luis Fabiano chipped in to the debate, saying before the opening 2-1 win over North Korea, that if Brazil had to "win dirty then we will as what counts with a World Cup is winning it".
And former Arsenal midfielder Gilberto Silva has stressed that Brazil are in South Africa "not to have a good time - we want to be champions".
So the message is clear to Socrates, and the others, Brazil, as they are only too happy to prove, mean business and can do the business.
After all the criticism he`s received Dunga would not be human if he were not to feel an overwhelming sense of vindication should Kaka and co. lift the trophy at Soccer City on July 11.
The end, he might well say, has justified the means.
BDST: 1237hrs, July 1, 2010