EAST RUTHERFORD - After a World Cup where they failed to live up to expectations, the smiles appeared to return to Brazilian faces again on Tuesday after a new-look team beat the United States 2-0 in a friendly.
The bright and lively performance from the team coached for the first time by Mano Menezes was in stark contrast to the downbeat displays of the Dunga squad knocked out in the quarter-finals by the Netherlands in South Africa.
Goals from debutant winger Neymar and striker Alexandre Pato were enough to see off the hosts but the manner of the win, highlighted by delightful passing and that old Brazilian joy in evidence again, displayed a clear change of mood within the team.
"We enjoyed to play, I was happy, happy to be back. It's fun to play with great players with skill but we also know we have a responsibility to work hard," Pato, who missed out on the World Cup after an injury-plagued season, told Reuters.
Neymar, one of a trio of Santos players playing behind Pato in attack, along with Robinho and Paulo Henrique Ganso, was particularly impressive and relished being around his club mates.
"The team felt very confident, the coach told us to play how we play at club level and we played a happy football," Neymar said.
Menezes has had little time to work with his new team and his decision to inject a distinctly Santos-flavoured attack paid off in his first attempt to create a more fluid form of football.
"This was a step forward in terms of our ideas and vision and there will be more. The way we set up avoided the risk of a lack of chemistry," he told reporters.
"I thought that the way that we performed reflected our style and our philosophy. It was not so much about the practice that we did but about the talent of the players.
"The tactics and the positional set-up certainly helped and at the moment that is the role of the coach... to help these players to show their talent. That is the philosophy we follow from now on."
Brazil teams at the 1982 and 1986 World Cup are the last to truly be remembered for an exciting and entertaining brand of soccer and Menezes said that philosophy was close to his heart.
"With the respect that I have for professionals in different eras, those moments definitely serve as reference to remember what we did and what we did wonderfully... what we are capable of and what we can do again," he added.comments