Football / World Cup USA '94: Americas' team look to Romario to fire dream

IN THE kind of football normally played at the Cotton Bowl, the coast-to-coast popularity of the Dallas Cowboys has earned the epithet of 'America's team'. When Brazil contest a place in the last four against the Netherlands there today, in what promises to be the match of the tournament, it will be as the Americas' team.

No nation has ever won the World Cup outside its own hemisphere, but that record will end if the sole South American survivors buckle under the burden of a continent's expectations. Such pressure, inevitable in view of Brazil's history of global pillage, could be as crucial in resolving this quarter-final as the quality of the opposition offered by the Dutch.

The words of an English manager about to visit Anfield spring to mind. 'My lads,' he declared, 'won't freeze in the white-hot atmosphere.' With the Netherlands also closing on a prize that holds an exalted place in their sporting culture - because it has twice eluded them at the last - woe betide any player getting cold feet in a stadium where the word cauldron will for once be appropriate.

The Beautiful Game has met its European cousin Total Football only once in the World Cup, 20 years ago this week, when the Netherlands' 2-0 victory swept them into the final. The scorers were Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens, and by coincidence the central figures are again likely to come from the Catalan club.

For once Romario and Ronald Koeman will not be fighting for a common cause. Publicly, the pair are a mutual admiration society, but the Brazilian will doubtless have stressed Koeman's fallibility when forced to defend just as the Dutch captain must have pointed out Romario's tendency to disappear when marked rigorously.

Responsibility for Romario will probably be entrusted to Stan Valckx, one of the striker's few friends from his spell at PSV Eindhoven. Should he and Koeman come into direct opposition it may mean that Valckx has been shaken off. And in a race between Koeman and Romario, few bookies would accept bets on the Brazilian.

The Netherlands are therefore likely to stick with the side who accounted for the Irish, a safety-first system designed to afford Koeman protection as well as a platform for his attacking forays. For if Brazil are allowed to turn and work up speed the way Saudi Arabia did against them, Romario and Bebeto might run amok.

Dick Advocaat is waiting to see if his wide attackers, Marc Overmars and Peter van Vossen, recover from to minor injuries before deciding whether to recall Jan Wouters, who was suspended against the Irish. The pair will be expected to occupy Brazil's 'wing- backs' to the extent that they are too busy to raid down the flanks.

Carlos Alberto Parreira's main selection dilemma concerns the same area. His left-sided touchline marauder, Leonardo, has been banned for four games following his assault on the United States' Tab Ramos. Brazil's coach thus had to choose between Branco, now in his third finals, and the more dynamic but right-footed Cafu. He opted for the former.

Mazinho was preferred to Rai, who was also left out against the Americans, although as Advocaat observed: 'It doesn't matter who plays - the type of game will be exactly the same. Brazil were very good against Russia but less so against the US, who they seemed to underestimate. Yet they are still the favourites.'

Advocaat shared the sense of anticipation surrounding the fixture. 'The whole world's looking forward to it, but no one more than us,' he said. 'It should be a great clash of styles. Our game is based on movement, theirs more on individual skills. We have to try and play our natural game and stop them asserting theirs.'

Two veterans of Brazil's triumphant 1970 side are among the media entourage here. Gerson believed Parreira ought to have named a more attacking style, arguing that he should change a winning team to incorporate Cafu and Muller. Tostao, more cautious, drew encouragement from defensive solidity, though they agree that Romario is the man to win the World Cup.

Their opinion is shared by the player known for his arrogance as much as what one pundit called his 'dependable unpredictability'. 'I will give everything to win this cup,' Romario said, which apparently includes making the odd goal for Bebeto. 'It's been 24 years, and that sticks in the throat. The teams of '82 and '86 were talented and clever but did not win. We must do it for Brazil this time.'

There it is again, that self-imposed pressure which will make it a struggle of both temperament and tactics. Advocaat was asked whether he was feeling the strain, knowing that many of his compatriots would have preferred Cruyff in charge. 'I'm under so much stress,' he replied with a grin, 'that I've gained five kilos in weight since we've been in America.'

BRAZIL (4-4-2): Taffarel (Reggiana); Jorginho (Bayern Munich), Marcio Santos (Bordeaux), Aldair (Roma), Branco (Fluminense); Zinho (Palmeiras), Mauro Silva (Deportivo La Coruna), Mazinho (Palmeiras), Dunga (VfB Stuttgart); Romario (Barcelona), Bebeto (Deportivo La Coruna).

NETHERLANDS (probable; 1-3-3-3): De Goey (Feyenoord); Koeman (Barcelona); Winter (Lazio), Valckx (Sporting Lisbon), F De Boer (Ajax); Jonk (Internazionale), Rijkaard (Ajax), Witschge (Feyenoord); Overmars (Ajax), Bergkamp (Internazionale), Van Vossen (Ajax).

Referee: R Badilla Sequeira (Costa Rica).

(Photograph omitted)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Recruitment Genius: Content Assistant / Copywriter

    £15310 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Situated in the heart of Bradfo...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reception Manager

    £18750 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Hotel in Chadderton is a popular ch...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence