Brazil picked up from where they left in their semifinal match against Germany. But Netherlands allowed them to get away with just a 3-0 loss. The return of captain Thiago Silva proved a disadvantage in the 3rd minute as the defender yielded a penalty by wrongly obstructing Arjen Robben. In the 17th minute, Brazil conceded another goal, stunning the home fans with an eerie silence. David Luiz headed aimlessly in an attempt to clear the ball and a Dutch midfielder pounded on the chance to make it 2-0 for the Netherlands. In injury time the Dutch scored another goal to clinch the third spot in the 2014 FIFA World Cup with an emphatic 3-0 victory, saving Brazil any further misery in the tournament.
The Netherlands were runners-up to Spain in the 2010 South Africa World Cup and their performance in 2014 has not been bad either. They did not lose to any team in regular play time. Their limitation of flunking at the finish continued until their last game in the third-place play-off against Brazil but in the end, they deserved the third spot more than Brazil. The home team and its supporters suffered a huge embarrassment in the last two games as 10 goals were fired against them by Germany and Netherlands.
Brazil were expected to salvage their lost prestige by beating Netherlands on Saturday but came a cropper instead. The home team’s double humiliation in two back-to-back matches rankled and it reflected in the players being booed by over 70,000 fans, who had come to the National Stadium in Brasilia in the hope of seeing the home side win their last World Cup match. But apparently, the mystique and magic of samba football had become the memories of the days gone by.
As the match began, Brazil kept the ball for a while before losing it the Dutch midfielders. Soon Robben came charging in and looked dangerous. Silva, who missed his last match for two offences in a row acted silly yet again in pulling down Robben and the Dutch earned a spot-kick. Van Persie made no error as the Netherlands 1-0 before the crowd could blink. Incidentally, Robben too was booked in the 8th minute for tugging Paulinho’s shirt just as the Brazilian made an attempt to break free. In the 17th minute, in a stupid act, David Luiz headed a cross in the path of Daley Blind to allow the Dutchman to score his first international goal and putting his team 2-0 ahead.
Brazil made several forays in the Dutch territory but they didn’t have any forward of Neymar’s caliber to take advantage of such moves. They were able to reach close to the 25 yard line but couldn’t penetrate further. On many occasions they tried to shoot from long distance but it was not the same thing as doing it from closer ranges. The attack looked very weak with some volleys going as high as T-20 Cricket-sixers landing in the stands. The closest chance from Brazil came in the 37th minute, when Oscar sent a teasing cross to which Paulinho and Luiz flung themselves but couldn’t get a touch in front of a nearly unguarded goal. The teams went to half time with the Netherlands leading 2-0.
After the break too, Brazil continued with haphazard football. Strangely, despite possessing the ball with them longer than the Netherlands, Brazil couldn’t capitalize. One could see the futility of higher percentage of ball possession as the Brazilians kept the play in their own half for long, passing the ball from goal keeper to defenders to the midfielders and the back to the defense line. Every time they crossed the center line, they were dispossessed by the Dutch. Robben was the pick of Netherlands players, moving all over the field and creating some good moves. But the Dutch also lost their way near the Brazilian goal. This went on until 5 minutes were added to the regular time to account for stoppages. The Dutch added to their score, when a fast moving Daryl Janmaat sent a slower cross which deceived Silva and Georginio Wijnaldum found himself in good position to slide the ball in. The match ended miserably for Brazilians, who looked like lost little kids in a forest. Despite Silva coming in, their defense was as weak as that against Germany and the less one talked about their attack, the better. It was a patently poor display from one of the weakest World Cup side from Brazil in 2014.
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