Humiliated, battered and hurt – Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Brazil will take centre stage in the World Cup 2014 one last time as they take on Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands in the 3rd place play-off at the Estádio Nacional de Brasilia in Brasília on the 12th of July. Beaten semi-finalists – Brazil and Netherlands have one chance at some pride following their losses to Germany and Argentina respectively. From a Brazilian perspective, it’s a chance to try to give their nation something to cheer about after the thrashing they received at the hands of Germany. Star-striker Neymar is still out with injury but captain – Thiago Silva will return to the back-four. The PSG defender was sorely missed as Germany made a mockery of the Brazilian defence in absence of their leader.
Netherlands will still be reeling from the near win against Argentina. A loss in the penalty shoot-out is never just, however after ended Costa Rica’s dream run in the World Cup through penalties, it was time for the Dutch to taste defeat. Dutch boss van Gaal has made it clear that he is not a fan of the 3rd place play-off game and that instead of the game he would return home earlier. Louis van Gaal will most likely field a weakened side providing the rest of his squad opportunities to take on Brazil in Brazilia. Two experienced managers face-off in Brazilia as they field their teams to battle it out for a 3rd place finish in Brazil, 2014.
Hosts and 5-time Champions Brazil were on the receiving end of a World Cup classic in the semi-final against Brazil. However, Brazil boss Scolari isn’t ready to throw in the towel yet. While he got it horribly wrong against the clinical Germans, Scolari has got it right more often than not since taking over. The return of skipper Thiago Silva will come as an enormous relief for Scolari, Brazilian fans and David Luiz, in particular. Sticking to his tried-and-trusted 4-3-3 formation despite the injury to Neymar, it isn’t likely that the former Chelsea boss will change things for the clash against Netherlands. To recover from their biggest defeat ever, Thiago Silva and company will try to secure 3rd place at least.
Thiago Silva is widely acclaimed as one of the best defenders in the World and rightly so. Great in the air and strong in a tackle, Silva is every coach’s dream centre back. Paris St. Germain’s centre back leads by example. His leadership skills have been well documented at all of his clubs. The former AC Milan defender is a born leader, who’s mere presence in the back-four is enough to steady a team. Possessing great organizational skills that Brazil clearly lacked against Germany, Silva makes other defenders look good and the humbling by Germany must’ve hurt him as much as anyone. Playing at the tip of the Brazilian midfield, Chelsea playmaker Oscar was Brazil’s best player, if one may say, against Germany. Tireless running with the genius to play the killer pass, Oscar is a classic number 10. In the absence of Neymar there will be added responsibility on the shoulders of the young Brazilian to lead a rather ineffective Brazilian attack. Third place is not what the fans hoped for at the start of the World Cup but as of now, distraught Brazilian supporters will take anything that comes their way.
The Dutch will feel hard done by luck after crashing out in the semi-finals against Argentina. Having stifled the threat of Lionel Messi and company for 120 minutes and having progressed to the semis on the virtue of a win in the shoot-out, the Dutch were slight favourites heading into the dreaded penalties. However, it wasn’t meant to be. Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands have been the most unpredictable side of the tournament. Changing formations and tactics as ad when needed depending on the opposition, second guessing the former Barcelona boss is a difficult task. Playing 3 centre backs, van Gaal chooses between a 5 man midfield or a 4 man midfield depending on his opposition. With Klaas Jan Huntelaar likely to get a look into the starting 11 in a rather inconsequential game, it might just be a reason for van Gaal, to let his Dutch youngsters have a run in the World Cup.
Dirk Kuyt is one of the most respected professionals around in World Football. A team player prepared to go the extra mile if his team requires, Kuyt’s tireless engine and experience made him a crucial component of van Gaal’s Dutch side. The former Liverpool fan favourite is also playing in what looks like his last World Cup game, the winning mentality is what has defined Dirk Kuyt’s career and he won’t be letting go of the 3rd place at any cost. Wesley Sneijder of Galatasary is one of the most capped Dutch players in history. The former Real Madrid playmaker struggled for form in the build-up to the World Cup and as a result was dropped from the national squad. Having worked his way back into the team, Sneijder has had a pretty decent World Cup. He may have not hit the heights of South Africa, 2010 but the Champions League winning midfielder was an irreplaceable player in the Dutch midfield.
Author’s Predicted Line-up and Score-line
Brazil (4-3-3) :- Cesar; Alves – Luiz – Silva – Maxwell; Gustavo – Ramires – Oscar; Bernard – Hulk – Willian.
Netherlands (5-3-2) :- Krul; Kuyt – de Vrij – Vlaar – Martins Indi – Blind; de Jong – de Guzman – Sneijder; Robben – van Persie.
Predicted Scoreline : Brazil 0 – 2 Netherlands
A comfortable win for the Dutch looks to be on the cards. Despite the return of Thiago Silva, the loss at the hands of Germany would be too much to come back from. Louis van Gaal’s last game as Dutch manager and the former Bayern boss will sign off with a win.