It’s often said that the worst time to get knocked out of a competition is in the semi-finals. You come so close but lose, but then have to somehow pick yourself up to play one last game. The third place play-off.
2014’s competitors are Brazil and The Netherlands. After an embarrassing 7-1 defeat to Germany in the semi-finals, can the hosts put on one last show for the fans with Thiago Silva back but Neymar still injured, or will Tuesday’s defeat still not been cleared from their heads?
Louis Van Gaal’s side took Argentina all the way to a penalty shoot-out in the last four, but lost 4-2 when they got there. Can the Dutch give their manager a fitting send-off before he heads off to Manchester United?
Estadio Nacional – Brasilia
The Key Battle: Thiago Silva vs Robin van Persie
Brazil captain Thiago Silva had to watch his team’s semi-final nightmare, a 7-1 loss to Germany, from the stands because of a one-match suspension. Many fans and pundits believe that it was his absence that led to the hosts’ collapse in Belo Horizonte.
The Paris St Germain player will return to boost the defensive line that Germany tore apart as Brazil look to impress in their final game of the tournament. He can also be a threat from set-pieces as he showed with his goal resulting from a corner against Colombia in the quarter-finals.
Silva will look to limit the contributions of Holland’s all-time leading scorer Robin van Persie. Since hitting the back of the net twice in his team’s 5-1 win over Spain and adding another in a 3-2 triumph over Australia in the group stages, Van Persie has not been as effective.
The 30 year old sat out the game against Chile through suspension and was bothered by a stomach injury before the Argentina game and has not rediscovered his early tournament form.
But this will more than likely be his last World Cup, so a goal in Brasilia would mean he ends the tournament on a high – especially if The Netherlands are victorious as well.
- Neymar is again ruled out with the back injury he suffered in the win over Colombia.
- Thiago Silva returns from suspension, though Brazil have had Henrique playing alongside David Luiz in training.
- After underwhelming against Germany, Jo, Ramires and Willian could come in for Fred, Hulk and Bernard.
- Maicon could also start again at right-back, meaning Dani Alves is likely to remain on the bench in what could be an experimental XI for the third-place playoff.
- Bruno Martins Indi could drop out of the starting XI after a disappointing 45 minutes against Argentina.
- Daley Blind will be expected to move to centre-back if that is indeed the case.
- Daryl Janmaat should come in on the right, meaning Dirk Kuyt will switch to the left flank.
- Jordy Clasie may come in for Nigel De Jong, who was substituted after an hour on Wednesday.
- Ron Vlaar is a doubt and may not be risked, with Joël Veltman tipped to come in, while Michel Vorm may start so every player gets minutes at the World Cup.
Previous Meetings: Brazil wins = 4 / Netherlands wins = 3 / Draws = 4
Last Meeting: Brazil 0-0 Netherlands (4th June 2011)
In a friendly match that was not short of chances – or world class talent – neither Brazil nor the Netherlands could find the net in an entertaining goalless draw in Goiania.
Robin van Persie failed to direct a free header for the Oranje, while Neymar and Robinho frequently went close for the hosts.
Van Persie led the attacking line from the off for the visitors, with support from Ibrahim Afellay and Arjen Robben, while Fred, Robinho and Neymar formed Mano Menezes’ attacking triumvirate for the home side. Despite this, neither side managed to score.
Stat of the Match
The two nations have given away the most fouls in the tournament – Brazil 107, Netherlands 106.
Where can I watch it?: ITV
My Prediction: Brazil 1-1 Netherlands (aet – Brazil win on penalties)
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