SAO PAULO - Plunged from a nationwide party into deep despair, Brazilians lambasted their team's lack of heart and style on Friday and begged for a return to the "beautiful game" by the time they host the World Cup in 2014.
In a country that has won more World Cups than any other and which defines itself by the success of its national team, the second successive limp exit to a European team at the quarter-final stage was too much to stomach for many fans.
"This is painful. It's a miserable pain," said a sobbing, bikini-clad Maria Elisa as she left Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach where about 20,000 fans, most wearing canary-yellow, endured the 2-1 defeat to the Netherlands shown on a giant screen.
Within minutes of the game's conclusion, hundreds of forlorn Brazilians vented their frustration on the blog of Juca Kfouri, one of Brazil's best-known sports writers.
Many blamed coach Dunga for fielding a team that lacked some of the country's greatest stars, such as Ronaldinho, Ganso and Neymar.
Many commentators had long had their knives out for 1994 World Cup winning player Dunga for what they saw as his stubbornly defensive style that was a far cry from the "jogo bonito" or beautiful game that Brazilians expect.
"What happened was precisely what we all knew would happen before the Cup even started - a mediocre team, mediocre football," one fan named Anderson Verdao wrote.
In Brazil's biggest city of Sao Paulo, disconsolate bankers, builders and other workers trooped back to their workplaces or consoled themselves with more beer as they analysed the defeat.
"There is no way to kill our sorrow. We just have to wait until 2014," said 27-year-old systems analyst Rafael Moretti, swigging a beer as other fans defiantly blew out some final blasts on vuvuzela horns.
A common view was that Dunga, who indicated immediately after the game he would not stay on as Brazil coach, had been too stubborn and inflexible to calls to change styles.
"Dunga is stupid - he didn't call up Ronaldinho," said Edson Cavalcante, a 40-year-old systems analyst who was swaying from the effects of beer and disappointment on a Sao Paulo street.
Brazil lost to France in the 2006 quarter-final even with skillful playmaker Ronaldinho on the team, but fans said on Friday that his exclusion had left the squad without options.
"It's not a problem of Brazilian football - we have great players. The problem was Dunga's philosophy of being the big chief, he was too hard-headed," said Daniel Garcia, a 29-year old banker.
Felipe Melo, the midfielder who scored an own goal and was sent off in the second half for stamping on Dutch playmaker Arjen Robben, was also singled out for blame.
"Felipe Melo shouldn't spend his vacation in Brazil," Ronaldo, the striker who led Brazil to its most recent World Cup title in 2002, wrote on his Twitter.
With Brazil hosting the next World Cup, Brazilians could at least look forward to a huge party and a strong chance of winning their sixth title in four years' time.
"I think there is an arrangement at (football governing body) FIFA that Brazil can't win too many times and of course the next one will be at home," said Sydney Medeiros, a 52-year-old parking attendant in Sao Paulo who had his Brazil shirt draped over one shoulder. "Clearly, it's a conspiracy."comments