How good was Dunga?

Discussion in 'The Beautiful Game' started by lessthanjake, Jan 30, 2023.

  1. lessthanjake

    lessthanjake Member+

    May 9, 2015
    FC Barcelona
    I’ve not actually seen a lot of games of Dunga, but I ended up coming across a video of him playing for Fiorentina, and found myself coming away impressed. See below, and then also for reference a video of his really good performance in the 1994 WC final:

    Obviously this is just two matches, but it’s honestly some really impressive stuff to me. I knew he was good for Brazil, but I’d not really seen any of him for his club and it seems like he put in good performances there too.

    For further reference regarding his WC performances and the type of output he had as a player, I’ll just note the following facts:

    - In his 18 WC matches, he average 5.83 tackles per game and 4.28 interceptions per game—for a massive combined total of 10.11 tackles + interceptions per game.

    - In those WC matches, he averaged 8.94 long passes per match, with a high success rate. For reference, that’s more long passes per match than Pirlo averaged in any of his World Cups.

    - He also averaged 107.4 touches per match in the World Cup, and easily completed the most passes per match of anyone on Brazil in each of his three World Cups.

    - He averaged 1.28 key passes per match in the World Cup. Not a huge amount of course, but it was one of the top few on Brazil each time, so he was involved in end-product, though not the main one.

    Between the videos I’ve come across, my own somewhat hazy general recollection, and the above stats, there’s a picture formed of a pretty interesting player: One who is the hub of his team’s passing game, advances the ball from deep with tons of long passes and is at least somewhat involved with making final balls, and is elite at recovering the ball for his team.

    Of course, this is a player we know performed great for Brazil and found success with them. At club level, though, he played for small clubs and didn’t find much success. Am not sure whether that’s because he played worse for his club teams, though, and the video above suggests maybe not.

    Thoughts on Dunga?
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  2. Isaías Silva Serafim

    Real Madrid
    Dec 2, 2021
    Nat'l Team:
    I was very impressed with Dunga's sofascore numbers when the cup statistics were released. Looking coldly at the numbers he seems to be as good as Pirlo at passing but much better at defending. Which gives the idea that he would be a more complete player than Pirlo.

    There are some good posts here about Dunga in another thread. I will post the links
  3. Al Gabiru

    Al Gabiru Member

    Jan 28, 2020
    One of the best dm's ever: impressive raw numbers in three world cups, once world champion, twice wc all star team

    At club level, Dunga was hampered by the limit of foreigners in his time. He was one of the best players in that UEFA Fiorentina Cup finalist 89/90 (along with baggio and kubik). He could have a much longer and more successful career in Europe if the laws were different.

    I think Dunga was more comparable to Xabi Alonso. Pirlo was much more skillful, creative.
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  4. lessthanjake

    lessthanjake Member+

    May 9, 2015
    FC Barcelona
    Yeah, I really like the Xabi Alonso comparison. Both were the hub of passing, made tons of long passes, and recovered the ball a lot.
  5. lessthanjake

    lessthanjake Member+

    May 9, 2015
    FC Barcelona
    Another comparator might be Thiago Alcantara—in the sense of a metronomic player who is the hub of the team’s passing game, makes lots of great long passes, and recovers the ball a lot. It seems to me that Thiago has more dribbling ability than Dunga, but I also think Thiago isn’t quite at the same level of quality overall (and has trouble staying healthy). So a decent comparison IMO, but not as good of one as Xabi Alonso.
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  6. Ozora

    Ozora Member+

    Aug 5, 2014
    Chelsea LFC
    Dunga also was in World Cup Team of the tournament twice. Not many midfielders can do that.
  7. Al Gabiru

    Al Gabiru Member

    Jan 28, 2020
    Searching in the forum, Dunga was the fourth best foreigner in Serie A in the 1987-88 season in Gazzeta dello sport' ratings

    image credit Vegan10

  8. Sexy Beast

    Sexy Beast Member+

    Dinamo Zagreb
    Aug 11, 2016
    Nat'l Team:
    Slightly off topic.. whats up with 1987 ratings. Maradona was the best with 6.48 with which would get him top 3 only in one of those years (1982), and the 2nd in 1987 briegel, would get into top 5 only once. Again in 1982.. does someone know whats up with 1987?
  9. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Nottingham Forest FC
    I think a bit of a down year for foreign players in Serie A - some had retired or were near the end of their career, others had some fitness and form issues.

    Maradona didn't win the Guerin d'Oro (which is based on average ratings but from 4 sources altogether) for 86/87, but had done for 84/85 where Gazzetta dello Sport had him averaging 7 as per above, and other foreign players Krol and Platini had won it in the earlier 80s too:
    Guerin d'Oro - Wikipedia

    On DBS Calcio (which shows average ratings from multiple sources as well, but not completely the same set as used for the Guerin d'Oro) these are the top 5s, including Italian players, from 79/80 to 00/01:
    DBS Calcio

    Tancredi (Roma/Italy) 6.75
    Di Somma (Avellino/Italy) 6.71
    Castellini (Napoli/Italy) 6.71
    Antognoni (Fiorentina/Italy) 6.70
    Corti (Cagliari/Italy) 6.70

    Krol (Napoli/Netherlands) 6.93
    De Sisti (Fiorentina/Italy) 6.84
    Neumann (Udinese/Germany) 6.72
    Falcao (Roma/Brazil) 6.72
    Colomba (Bologna/Italy) 6.63

    Krol (Napoli/Netherlands) 6.91
    Causio (Udinese/Italy) 6.85
    Castellini (Napoli/Italy) 6.74
    Martina (Genoa/Italy) 6.70
    Brini (Ascoli/Italy) 6.55

    Falcao (Roma/Brazil) 6.59
    Martina (Genoa/Italy) 6.58
    Vierchowod (Roma/Italy) 6.57
    Bagni (Inter Milan/Italy) 6.55
    Tricella (Verona/Italy) 6.55

    Zico (Udinese/Brazil) 6.83
    Platini (Juventus/France) 6.71
    Tacconi (Juventus/Italy) 6.70
    Fanna (Verona/Italy) 6.61
    Brady (Sampdoria/Ireland) 6.61

    Maradona (Napoli/Argentina) 6.90
    Junior (Torino/Brazil) 6.79
    Briegel (Verona/Germany) 6.79
    Garella (Verona/Italy) 6.67
    Hateley (AC Milan/England) 6.67

    Bagni (Napoli/Italy) 6.74
    Donadoni (Atalanta/Italy) 6.72
    Dirceu (Como/Brazil) 6.66
    Zacarelli (Torino/Italy) 6.65
    Ancelotti (Roma/Italy) 6.63

    Zenga (Inter Milan/Italy) 6.74
    Magrin (Atalanta/Italy) 6.66
    De Agostini (Verona/Italy) 6.63
    Baresi (AC Milan/Italy) 6.63
    Bagni (Napoli/Italy) 6.55

    Gullit (AC Milan/Netherlands) 6.76
    Baresi (AC Milan/Italy) 6.70
    Mancini (Sampdoria/Italy) 6.70
    Maldini (AC Milan/Italy) 6.69
    Maradona (Napoli/Argentuna) 6.61

    Brehme (Inter Milan/Germany) 6.79
    Berti (Inter Milan/Italy) 6.72
    Junior (Pescara/Brazil) 6.66
    Serena (Inter Milan/Italy) 6.66
    Baresi (AC Milan/Italy) 6.65

    Matthaus (Inter Milan/Germany) 6.72
    Baresi (AC Milan/Italy) 6.70
    Cervone (Roma/Italy) 6.52
    Brehme (Inter Milan/Germany) 6.52
    Rampulla (Cremonese/Italy) 6.50

    Mancini (Sampdoria/Italy) 6.85
    Baresi (AC Milan/Italy) 6.55
    Pagliuca (Sampdoria/Italy) 6.55
    Matteoli (Cagliari/Italy) 6.52
    Matthaus (Inter Milan/Germany) 6.50

    Lorieri (Ascoli/Italy) 6.71
    Shalimov (Foggia/USSR) 6.70
    Kohler (Juventus/Germany) 6.69
    Zola (Napoli/Italy) 6.68
    Maldini (AC Milan/Italy) 6.66

    Dell'Anno (Udinese/Italy) 6.72
    Sosa (Inter Milan/Uruguay) 6.70
    Signori (Lazio/Italy) 6.66
    Maldini (AC Milan/Italy) 6.65
    Fusi (Torino/Italy) 6.61

    Gullit (Sampdoria/Netherlands) 6.92
    Baresi (AC Milan/Italy) 6.65
    Ferrara (Napoli/Italy) 6.64
    Tacconi (Genoa/Italy) 6.60
    Thern (Napoli/Sweden) 6.58

    Savicevic (AC Milan/Yugoslavia) 6.71
    Turci (Cremonese/Italy) 6.68
    Vialli (Juventus/Italy) 6.64
    Marchegiani (Lazio/Italy) 6.62
    Pagliuca (Inter Milan/Italy) 6.60

    Weah (AC Milan/Liberia) 6.81
    Chiesa (Sampdoria/Italy) 6.65
    Sensini (Parma/Argentina) 6.60
    Taglialateli (Napoli/Italy) 6.59
    Baresi (Ac Milan/Italy) 6.58

    Thuram (Parma/France) 6.84
    Pagliuca (Inter Milan/Italy) 6.69
    Taibi (Piacenza/Italy) 6.63
    Pinato (Atalanta/Italy) 6.59
    Peruzzi (Juventus/Italy) 6.57

    Totti (Roma/Italy) 6.73
    Baggio (Bologna/Italy) 6.69
    Bierhoff (Udinese/Germany) 6.69
    Nedved (Lazio/Czech Republic) 6.62
    Winter (Inter Milan/Netherlands) 6.58

    Vieri (Lazio/Italy) 6.83
    Almeyda (Lazio/Argentina) 6.74
    Totti (Roma/Italy) 6.69
    Mihajlovic (Lazio/Yugoslavia) 6.58
    Rapaic (Perugia/Croatia) 6.56

    Frey (Verona/France) 6.62
    Torisi (Parma/Italy) 6.60
    Nedved (Lazio/Czech Republic) 6.59
    Fiore (Udinese/Italy) 6.58
    Davids (Juventus/Netherlands) 6.56

    Baggio (Brescia/Italy) 6.81
    Tommasi (Roma/Italy) 6.75
    Nedved (Lazio/Czech Republic) 6.71
    Rui Costa (Fiorentina/Portugal) 6.71
    Montella (Roma/Italy) 6.64

    As far as Maradona goes though, I think that both during 86/87 and 87/88 he had periods affected by fitness/lifestyle issues (Vegan10 would give more details about the specifics). Actually the best 12 months from him would be calendar year 1985 I think - I made the post below on Vegan10's thread but using Guerin Sportivo ratings (they are typically similarly generous to the Gazzetta dello Sport ones anyway though pretty much I think, for players on average)
    I made this one for Platini for calendar year 1983 too for example
    I think other than those years it might be 1988 which was best for Maradona over a calendar year; perhaps 1985 for Platini. For seasons overall it seems accepted that 1984/85 was individually speaking Maradona's best Serie A one though I believe (so it's nothing or little to do with more generous grades being given that his best average rating is clearly for that season)

    Compared to his Italian source average ratings for the 1986 World Cup though, any Napoli season or calendar year is behind (but with a bigger sample size of course)
    Football Ratings: Average ratings World Cup 1986. (

    Since I've posted on this thread maybe I should make some sort of comment about Dunga (that I didn't already make on another thread recently) - I think that he was clearly more agile in his younger days (shown on that Fiorentina vs Dynamo Kiev video in post 1 of this thread for example, and it allowed him to play in a way which even allowed for the video to be given a heading 'Brazilian flair') so for sure that's an advantage, although I guess comparing to his 1994 World Cup self for example, it has become clear to him by that time that he wouldn't any more have success trying to use quick turns and skills and arguably it focuses his mind so that he plays an efficient game style in terms of his passing because he is looking to make early passes to the forwards Romario and Bebeto whenever possible for example (but I still think he has lost something in terms of his mobility and even his touch probably by that stage so it a literal sense it's not his peak ability wise, albeit it's when he leads Brazil to a World Cup win as captain).
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  10. poetgooner

    poetgooner Member+

    Nov 20, 2014
    Arsenal FC
    Interesting that @Dearman has 84/85 Maradona as a top 5 greatest domestic season of all time

  11. poetgooner

    poetgooner Member+

    Nov 20, 2014
    Arsenal FC
    Despite captaining both Brazil '94 and '98, I think what would have really boosted his popularity was to stay with Fiorentina for another few years (not sure about the decision for him to leave). That 90s Fiorentina team had a certain romanticism about it, with Rui Costa and Batistuta. The team was very popular, had many neutral fans, and a jersey that was iconic.
  12. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Nottingham Forest FC
    Yeah, kudos to him for looking past trophies won in his assessments. That example is probably going to be the top one in his list for a player playing for a relatively lowly team I suppose (without checking right now, although I did see Dearman's work about individual seasons a few times before anyway).
  13. celito

    celito Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 28, 2005
    Palmeiras Sao Paulo
    Nat'l Team:
    I'd like to provide some Brazilian perspective on Dunga. Due to the failure of the 90 WC, the media made him the symbol of what was wrong with the NT and his name became a synonym for the unskilled and unimaginative midfielder. They even coined the term "the Dunga era" to criticize the team.

    Mind you, Brazil had come from a generation of great midfielders that although didn't win the WC were highly respected nationally and even internationally. Players like Zico, Cerezo, Falcão, Socrates. So they were comparing Dunga (unfairly) to those types of players. Of course, after the WC 94, the view of the media changed a bit. After that he became a symbol of perseverance, hard work, and leadership. Until he spoiled his image again when coached the NT and was constantly rude to reporters.

    I think Dunga read the game very well as a DM. He was no Pirlo in the passing and skill department, but his passing game was indeed very underrated. Specially in Brazil. His passing and decision making in WC 94 was really good with a variety of short and mid-range passes even using the outside part of his foot at times.
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