Brazil’s troubled finish to the 2014 World Cup on home soil continued with a limp performance against a newly energised Dutch, whose return to goalscoring form after two drab 0-0s propelled them to a third place finish. Even if Manchester United-bound coach Louis van Gaal couldn’t see the point in the Brasilia-based play-off, his side produced a credible display which showed why they got so far into the tournament; Brazil, it must be said however, were dreadful throughout, but punished less rigorously than on Tuesday evening in Belo Horizonte.
Story of the Game
What Brazil perhaps needed to start the game after the unmitigated catastrophe of Tuesday night was a slow, assertive start, controlling the ball in the midfield and giving additional protection to the defensively rogue David Luiz and available again Thiago Silva. Maybe, then, the likes of Oscar and Willian would be able to get into the game much more efficiently than against Germany.
That didn’t happen. Within the opening 60 seconds, they were dealt yet another psychological blow. Arjen Robben strode through the Netherlands rearguard at pace, with virtually the first attacking move of the game, and Thiago Silva, the man whose reputation probably rose as a result of that 7-1 capitulation on account of having no part to do with it, was powerless to stop the Bayern forward’s run within the rules of the game. With Robben through on goal, Silva stuck a leg out to trip him on the edge of the box, but the momentum carried Robben into the box and so the Dutch were awarded a penalty, and a great chance to deal a real hammer blow to Brazil’s chances of resurgence. Rather oddly, though, despite Thiago Silva very clearly being the last man, and Arjen Robben having a very obvious goalscoring opportunity, the referee opted to show the Brazil skipper a yellow card rather than anything more serious. Perhaps this was a case of not wanting to incense the home crowd early on – maybe just to keep the game going as a spectacle – or even a misreading of the actual event – but ultimately, as controversial as the event may have been if the game had had any real bearing on anything, Silva still being on the pitch didn’t change a great deal.
Robin van Persie, unable to take a penalty versus the Argentines on Wednesday due to substitution, stepped up and duly pulled the penalty beyond the goalkeeper, to Julio Cesar’s left, starting the third placed play-off how they’d have aimed to end the semi-final, scoring a penalty. The Estadio Nacional had at least done a good impression of a crowd who cared about the game before the match, still belting out the Brazilian anthem a capella, but now it was stunned to silence; how much worse could it get?
Well, in the immediate future, not much worse. Indeed, Brazil came into the game, Oscar feeding a ball into the box which Ramires missed with an outstretched leg, while David Luiz continued to provide attacking impetus for both sides, launching a Brazil attack and then not dealing with a counter from the Dutch when his side’s forward movements broke down.
Maxwell, a replacement for Marcelo at left back, laid on a good chance for his forwards but Bruno Martins Indi was equal to the cross, clearing well. However, it wasn’t long until the Netherlands were further in front, David Luiz essentially laying on an assist for Daley Blind, who had ventured into the Brazilian box on another rampant Dutch counter. Blind, unmarked and not closed down with the ball at his feet, managed to poke between the defence and beyond an off-balance Julio Cesar to extend his team’s lead, putting the Netherlands 2-0 ahead with his first international goal and only 16 minutes on the clock. Would it be a rout?
Not quite. Brazil managed to keep the Netherlands at arm’s length for the rest of the half, indeed having the better of the remaining opportunities. Oscar charged at the Dutch defence from deep, forcing Jasper Cillessen into a smart save, while the Chelsea man also played a free kick to the back post later on but the challenges of Jo and David Luiz both missed the ball entirely, the ball tamely petering out for a goal kick. A similar chance later on was missed by Luiz and midfielder Paulinho, after that man Oscar had again laid on a good chance, this time Luiz Gustavo deflecting the ball just enough to put his colleagues off at the far post. This was the golden chance for Brazil to go into the break trailing just one goal, but they failed to make it count.
The second half began as a reasonably end-to-end affair. Willian got the first real opportunity to lay on something for his team, however his low cross was poor and launched a Dutch counter, from which Arjen Robben came close after a neat piece of interplay with Daley Blind. Combative midfielder Ramires had the hosts’ best chance of the half, wriggling away from the imperious Ron Vlaar and slicing a shot across the Dutch goal and wide. It was, however, a sign of improvement, as Brazil began to properly attack the Netherlands. David Luiz forced Cillessen into a save from a free kick not long after, as his side built up a head of steam up top.
Brazil then had a very credible penalty shout turned down; Oscar charging into a challenge with Daley Blind and dramatically falling onto the floor. It looked like a penalty in real time, and highlights showed that, while contact was exaggerated, it was certainly of the nature to give the Brazilians a spot kick. Nevertheless, it wasn’t given, and Oscar was booked for simulation, which quite clearly incensed the Chelsea man. Robben fell in the Brazilian area moments later after a collision with Fernandinho, but the referee was having none of it this time either, waving play on; not that it really mattered. The game slowed down, both sides only really threatening from set pieces. The Dutch nearly bagged a third from a corner, Kuyt heading wide, but with time a third would indeed come. Daryl Janmaat, on for the injured Blind, raced down the flank and squared towards Georginio Wijnaldum, who made no mistake from close range, the midfielder scoring the final goal of the game in injury time. There was still time for – oddly enough – Michel Vorm to make a substitute appearance in place of Jasper Cillessen – but the game was already wrapped up.
The Netherlands take the third place medals, and on balance probably deserved it after the tournament they played and performance they produced in Brasilia on Saturday. Brazil have now conceded their highest tally of goals ever in a single World Cup – 13 – and that just about sums up the catastrophic end to their World Cup campaign. They beat some excellent sides – among all the doom and gloom it’s odd to think they still beat Chile and Colombia, two of the most exciting teams in the competition – but frankly, the players will probably be glad it’s all over.
Player Ratings (out of 10)
Julio Cesar – 6: Wasn’t tested often. Made some good saves but maybe should have done better with the second Dutch goal.
Maicon – 5: Found himself exposed a lot, but attacked reasonably well.
Thiago Silva – 4: Gave away a penalty with his first involvement, and probably should have been sent off, but otherwise looked okay. Hard to forgive the penalty incident, though.
David Luiz – 2: Schoolboy defending, yet again, from David Luiz. Let’s hope he learns from his centre back partner at PSG this season.
Maxwell – 6: Quiet game, a lot better than Marcelo in recent matches though.
Luiz Gustavo – 4: Let the Dutch run rampant and was replaced at half time.
Ramires – 7: A rare bright spark, Ramires has probably been Brazil’s best player over the past two games. Maybe alongside club teammate Oscar.
Paulinho – 5: Pretty much useless, but we’ve come to expect that from Paulinho by now.
Oscar – 7: Created a swathe of chances, unfortunately the rest of his side weren’t on the same wavelength. Slightly wasteful when taking things into his own hands, though. Bit of a Neymar-lite in some respects.
Willian – 5: Well, at least he can run well. Don’t know what else he’s useful for in international football.
Jo – 4: Was involved so little in the game that people were presumably harking back to the days when Fred was a guaranteed starter.
Fernandinho – 6: Was much better than Gustavo, who he replaced. Not at his club level of form, though.
Hernanes – 5: Did almost nothing other than make rash challenges.
Hulk – 5: Threw away a couple of good chances late on.
Jasper Cillessen – 6: Rarely tested, but another clean sheet – three for the tournament overall – and clearly didn’t let his woeful shoot-out against Argentina affect his nerves.
Dirk Kuyt – 6: Worked hard, as you’d expect from Dirk Kuyt, but did very little else.
Bruno Martins Indi – 6: Cleared a good few Brazilian chances, which was all he really had to do all night.
Stefan de Vrij – 6: Similarly to Martins Indi, de Vrij wasn’t called upon all too often, but carried out his duties well when he did.
Ron Vlaar – 7: Vlaar has been imperious all tournament and typified it in this game. Even had a late surge into the Brazilian half, which was cut out by a defender, sadly.
Daley Blind – 7: Scored with a neat finish and defended well again. Blind has had a good tournament, something reflected in Saturday night’s game.
Jordy Clasie – 6: Not quite a Nigel de Jong figure, but Clasie carried out his duties reasonably well.
Jonathan de Guzman – 7: Paralled Ramires in many ways – carried defence into attack very well but was quite poor in the final third. A strong performance.
Georginio Wijnaldum – 7: Another convincing performance and a goal to go with it. Wijnaldum should be pleased with his efforts.
Arjen Robben – 8: Constant thorn in Brazil’s side – maybe went to ground too easily at points but earned the penalty which sent the Netherlands on their way.
Robin van Persie – 7: Opened the goalscoring and held up the ball well. Maybe will have wanted a few more chances to himself.
Daryl Janmaat – 7: Good cameo by Janmaat again, this time laying on Wijnaldum’s goal with a burst of pace down the right.
Joel Veltman – 6: Had little time to affect the game.
Michel Vorm – 6: Shoe-in for the Golden Glove on this performance. Sensational.
Man of the Match
Arjen Robben. Perhaps by virtue of the game having little in the way of star performers, with both outfits ostensibly having the team at their inner philosophical core, and Brazil’s one attacking star, Neymar, was out through injury, but that’s perhaps a little cynical. Robben did have a good game, he just didn’t play at the level he did earlier in the tournament. He’s probably getting this award, then, because nobody else did, either. But anyway, he earned the penalty which set the Netherlands on their way, so well done Robben!