Brazil vs Netherlands match report World Cup 2014: Final humiliation for hosts as Robin Van Persie leads Dutch to victory
Brazil 0 Netherlands 3
Saturday 12 July 2014
If nothing positive can come from winning this fixture then there are plenty of negatives that can go with losing it, including picking up the first booking for diving and being booed off the pitch as host nation.
Holland enjoyed a comfortable stroll through a balmy evening after striking early, controlling the match and toying with their opponents throughout, but they will still feel no better about another near-miss on the biggest stage.
But for Brazil, a country which hasn’t yet caught its breath after their semi-final humiliation, this was another dire effort to endure. If the Germany defeat showed up the mental problems that have shredded the hearts and minds of these Brazilian players, this was a not-so-subtle reminder of their physical limitations.
Looking back across previous tournaments, it is hard to dredge up a worse team to make the final four in terms of results and performances. After all the hype and hope, that is a massive indictment of the hosts’ style and substance.
There’s no doubting the potential of this Brazilian squad and if all fully fit, they could have fielded seven players who have lined up in a Champions’ League semi-final during the past two seasons, plus a league winner in Fernandinho.
But that just adds to the bewilderment because when analysing their efforts – and this game was a microcosm of their five weeks – there is not a single player outside of Neymar that has consistently played to his usual level, never mind elevated his game and reputation.
Both sides started as they finished the semi-finals with Holland standing over a penalty after Brazil had been sliced open with simple and obvious movement. The game had just kicked off when Robin van Persie fed Arjen Robben and while Thiago Silva’s foul looked to be outside the box, he inexplicably escaped with just a yellow card for hauling down the forward. Van Persie buried the spot kick and any chance of the crowd stuffing away their anger and annoyance at what has happened to the side rapidly disappeared. In fact after all the fanaticism of earlier games, the soundtrack was fitting as a low and grumpy groan accompanied the pedestrian play.
Brazil’s response to that goal did not help either with aimless ball after aimless ball towards Jo up front as the sense of embarrassment again swept over both the team and the country. But for all their obvious issues in attack, it is worth remembering that no side has conceded more goals than the hosts at this tournament and the reasons are there for everyone to see.
Neither of the holding midfielders, Paulinho and Luiz Gustavo, offer their defence cover and it is badly needed. Exhibit A on that front came after 16 minutes as the Dutch doubled their lead. This time Robben fed Jonathan de Guzman down the right, his cross was troublesome to the point that David Luiz headed it out into no man’s land where Daley Blind stood and passed high into the net. But there was no hysteria or tears this time, just annoyance at the ineptitude and the fact another game was over so soon.
What was lost in the fallout from the semi-final – where much of the attention was split between the shock of what happened on the field and the shock at Brazil’s off-field attitude – was that they just are not very good. From a goalkeeper that plays his football in Toronto right through to Jo who came in and was every bit as ineffective as Fred whom he replaced, there has been so little to excite.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment has been the inability to create outside of Neymar. Luiz Felipe Scolari, the coach, finally stumbled upon what many believed to be the best three attacking midfielders he had at his disposal for this non-event, but Oscar was again limited and Willian and Ramires largely anonymous. The sight of Hulk warming up at 2-0 down suggested much.
Midway through the first half, the centre-half, Stefan de Vrij was at walking pace as he ghosted past three opponents while just after the half-hour mark a simple break out of defence saw the Dutch overlap with six players coming through the middle and bearing down on a bewildered Brazilian back four.
At the other end Luiz looked the biggest threat, which hinted at both his wayward positioning and the efforts of the attacking unit.
At least Brazil did improve after the break as Holland looked increasingly disinterested and Oscar might have had a penalty after appearing to be fouled by Blind. In fact all he achieved was to pick up the first yelow card of the tournament for simulation, another shameful moment for this desperate team.
It was the visitors who rounded off the rout in stoppage time as Georginio Wijnaldum got on the end of a Daryl Janmaat cross. Brazil, who were booed off at the end, will be glad their World Cup is finally over. However, it will be a long time before they can escape the spotlight because the fallout from this is anything but over.
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