World Cup Preview: Netherlands vs. Brazil

Both Brazil and Netherlands play beautiful football, both of them have improved their defence but only one of them will make it to semi-final of the World Cup. The Oranje and the Canarinho, have met twice in the quarter-finals previously in 1974 World Cup and in the 1994 World Cup and have one win a piece. In 1974, the second round used to lead directly to the semi-finals and it was Netherlands who knocked Brazil out of the World Cup with goals from Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens. However, in 1994, goals from Brazil’s got their revenge and won 3-2, knocking the Netherlands out of the World Cup.

Brazil won on penalties in the in the 1998 Semi-final meeting between the two teams. The current Brazil manager, Dunga had successfully found the back of the net from the penalty spot while one of the Dutch manager Marwijk’s assistant, Phillip Cocu had missed his. Will Cocu’s Netherlands finally beat Dunga’s Brazil?

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Bert van Marwijk has had his critics including the Dutch striker Robin Van Persie, however he has only lost one match as manager ever since he took up the job of managing the national side. Netherland’s have not looked very convincing in the World Cup so far but have managed to get results. Today’s match promises to be a real challenge for the Dutch. Marwijk will most likely go with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Maarten Stekelenburg in goal. Their defence will be lead by their captain Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who has had a very good World Cup campaign so far along with Gregory van der Wiel, John Heitinga and Joris Mathijsen. Netherland’s strength is their midfield. Today’s match depends on how well Netherland’s two-holding midfielders Mark van Bommel and Nigel De Jong recover balls, keep possession and support the back four. Netherland’s attack will be lead by Robin Van Persie playing up front with Arjen Robben, Dirk Kuyt and Wesley Sneijder just sitting behind him. Netherland’s had a relatively easy path to the quarter-finals and today’s match against Brazil will be by far the most difficult challenge that Netherlands has faced in the last two years.

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Ranking: 1

If ranking is anything to go by, well they are the BEST. However, Dunga’s Brazil many claim doesn’t play attractive football anymore. Good football however is not always attractive football and Brazil have qualified to this stage by winning was was called the ‘Group of Death’. And, they played pretty attractive football in their 3-0 win over Chile! So Dunga seems to know very well when Brazil can afford to play attractive football and when they need to just get a result. For the first time in a very long time, Brazil have a very good defence. This is their strength and they will need to be on guard against the Dutch midfield bursting with talent. Dunga will most likely also go with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Julio Caesar, one of the best goalkeepers in the world in goal. Maicon, Lucio, Juan and Michel Fernandes Bastos will be at the back for Brazil. Gilberto Silva and Felipe Melo will hold midfield and control the Dutch attack. Kaka, Nilmar Robinho and Luis Fabiano will form Brazil’s attack. Netherlands will need to watch out for Brazil’s wingers. Giovanni Van Bronckhorst could get caught out by the pace of the Brazilian wingers. Robinho will most likely push infield and any concentration lapse by Mark Van Bommel will result in a Robinho goal!

Brazil are happy to just keep possession till they strike. They do not launch hopeful long balls to Luis Fabiano and instead try and weave their way through the opposition’s defence. This is bound to frustrate Netherlands who also like to keep possession. Just because Brazil keep possession doesn’t mean that they are in any way less dangerous on the counter.  The second an opposition’s move comes to a halt, Brazil run with the ball.

Netherlands will need to be extra vigilant if they really want to make it to the Semi-finals.

The match will be physical. It will be like a chess match at times. It is bound to be a very close one with one moment of brilliance from either of the teams deciding the outcome. It might even go to penalties, if it does, then Netherland will win.

Manager Speak

“Brazil are a very mature and stable team. We might be the underdogs against Brazil, for the first time in the World Cup.” – Bert van Marwijk, Netherlands manager

“Holland have a good tradition at the World Cup, we have to be very careful with the Dutch players, they are very technically able.” – Dunga, Brazil manager

Stars to Watch Out For

Netherlands: Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Dirk Kuyt, Giovanni van Bronckhorst

Brazil: Luis Fabiano, Robinho, Kaka, Maicon

Go Figure!

The Holland midfielder Wesley Sneijder has scored four goals in his last six internationals

Luís Fabiano has hit 13 goals in his last 13 competitive appearances for Brazil

Holland are on a national record 23-game unbeaten run

Brazil have lost only one of their last 30 games


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