Estadio Nacional de Brasilia, Brasilia
July 12, 2014; 21:00 BST
Brazil seek consolation and a final bow as they take on the Dutch in the third-place match on Saturday.
The trauma of Brazil’s 7-1 semi-final demolition is still fresh, the wounds still open, but on Saturday, Brazil’s much-maligned players will have an opportunity—or the misfortune, depending on the result—to try to salvage a small consolation for their fans. Given the size of the outcry though, you wonder if they wouldn’t just rather not play, if any result could ease the host nation’s pain. Fred, who has been booed every time he has touched the ball, told the press, “It is a scar which will remain with us for the rest of our lives.” It will be a stern test to see if the Brazilians can overcome this trauma to rally together for one final, if muted, hurrah in what has been a brilliant World Cup in their country.
The Dutch, on the other hand, have been very vocal about their lack of interest in a third-place match, and may not put very much effort into this game. For years Louis Van Gaal has publicly advocated for abolishing the match, while Arjen Robben said after the semi-final: “I think we should go home. You play a tournament like this and no one wants to play it [the third-place match].”
Team News and Tactics
The hosts welcome back Thiago Silva from suspension, and he will most certainly be reinstated in the heart of the Brazilian defense. Neymar is, of course, still out, and it will be interesting to see if Luiz Felipe Scolari sticks with the young Bernard as a replacement, or give Chelsea’s Willian a chance. Oscar will stick to the number 10 position and hope to acquit himself more forcefully than he did against the Germans. The much-maligned Fred will hope to get a goal to prove to his countrymen that he is worth the number nine shirt.
Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Cesar (GK)—Maicon, David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Marcelo—Fernandinho, Luiz Gustavo—Bernard, Oscar, Hulk—Fred
Given the extent to which the Dutch have disavowed this game, there’s no telling who Van Gaal will field come Saturday. It’s unlikely that he’ll put out a full-strength eleven, and this may be a good opportunity to give substitutes like Klaas Jan Huntelaar an opportunity to stretch their legs and get a cap. To make for a more entertaining game, Van Gaal may switch from the defensive 5-3-2 deployed through most of the tournament to the more attacking 3-4-3 utilized against Costa Rica. Even with Robben and Van Persie out of the lineup, this Dutch team is still dangerous and have the class to match and overcome Brazil.
Expected starting line-up (3-4-3): Cillessen (GK)—de Vrij, Vlaar, Martins Indi—Kuyt, Wijnaldum, Sneijder, Blind—Lens, Huntelaar, Depay
- Brazil and the Netherlands have faced each other four times previously in the World Cup, with two Dutch victories, one Brazilian victory, and one draw. The last clash was in the 2010 quarterfinal, which the Dutch won 2-1 thanks to two Wesley Sneijder goals.
- Despite being one of top-scoring teams of the tournament, the Dutch have not scored in 240 minutes.
- Both Brazil and the Netherlands are heavy on fouls, having committed 107 and 106 fouls a piece, compared to Germany’s 71 and Argentina’s 64.
- The Dutch are second-half specialists this tournament, having scored 10 of their 12 goals in the second half, and the last four after the 75th minute.
- Brazil have won only one in five of their last World Cup matches against European opposition, that victory coming in the controversial opening match against Croatia this tournament.
Players to Watch
Dirk Kuyt (Netherlands)
The former Liverpool player has had a great tournament for the Orange, displaying his famed work ethic as well as his versatility. He was deployed on each wing, as well as in full-back, and seeing how much Brazil’s Marcelo struggled at left-back against Germany, Kuyt could be the man to exploit that weakness down the flanks.
David Luiz (Brazil)
The leader of this Brazilian team, David Luiz will be a man on a mission on Saturday. After the defensive embarrassment of the Germany game, he will be eager to keep a clean sheet to redeem himself. His world-class goal against Colombia in the quarterfinal shows that he is also a threat in attack, and with the extra motivation, there’s no telling what he can cook up.
Brazil 3-1 Netherlands
Given the extremely contrasting attitudes towards this game, the Brazilians should win through sheer desire. It would also be a nice homage to the host nation and its fans, while the Dutch should score at least once to end their World Cup on a positive note.