The soul of wit
23 May 2017 12:41 (South Africa)
Africa

The Dutch stun Brazil, banish them to World Cup exile

  • Andy Rice
    andy rice
    Andy Rice

    Andy Rice is a founding partner of Yellowwood Future Architects, a marketing strategy consultancy. In his other lives, he is the southern hemisphere's only supporter of Cambridge United Football Club, and was once upon a time the South African National Spoofing Champion. He has played football at Wembley and cricket at Lord's within the same weekend, but troubled the scorer on neither occasion. Things could only go up from here.

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The Nelson Mandela Bay stadium saw a great upset on Friday, as the Dutch capitalised on Brazil’s mistakes and plunged the World Cup 2014 host country into deep mourning. An important match it might have been, but great match surely it wasn’t. It ended Netherlands 2, Brazil 1.

The Dutch have the honour tonight of being the first country to reach the World Cup semi finals. In the game against Brazil, once again they have proven what we’ve been saying all along: they are a tough team to play against. Their strategy evolves around fighting for each and every square inch of the field, upsetting their opposition by every means available and then using the breaks to create scoring chances. And once they are up front, they use every bit of trickery and deadly counter-attacks to increase their margin. It’s not good-looking football, but there’s no doubt that it’s effective.

Many a Dutch supporter is grateful today for the existence of Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder. Robben for upsetting the Brazilian defenders so constantly to force the replacement of Bastos and Felipe Melo’s red card (as well as the majority of fouls in the match); Sneijder for being there when the goal scoring was necessary. Their defence felt rather wobbly in the first half but firmed up and managed to push South Americans away in the second. They are also probably making totems dedicated to their heroic goalkeeper, Stekelenburg, who more or less single-handedly kept them in the game during their first-half fight for survival.

From their side, Brazil totally outplayed the Dutch in the first half, only to push the self-destruct button in the second with Cesar’s inexplicable mistake that led to the orange equaliser. It was almost sad to watch the great team fall apart so publicly, but the combination of tough Dutch players and their own inability to deal with being behind has proven to be too much for them. As we’ve said before, Dunga is not a man that should be the Brazilian coach. He is intellectually and emotionally not up to the task of leading the greatest footballing nation in the world. Dunga’s reactions are more suited to a junior player in the Italian Third League than a man who Brazilian stars need to look up to. We genuinely hope Brazil’s bosses realise that and choose someone who the players would walk on coals for. World Cups are won by people like that and 2014 beckons.

The Dutch will now face the winner of the Ghana-Uruguay match in the semi finals and stand a good chance of taking their brand all the way into the finals. Their corporate approach is not something we like, but then again, results are the only thing that matter. Sadly enough.

Here are the reporter’s notes

Starting line-up

The Netherlands: Stekelenburg, van Der Wiel, Heitinga, Van Bronckhorst, Ooijer, Van Bommel, De Jong , Sneijder, Kuyt, Van Persie, Robben

Brazil: Julio Cesar,  Maicon, Lucio, Juan, Michel Bastos, Daniel, Felipe Melo, Silva, Kaka, Luis Fabiano, Robinho

Men of the match

Robben, Sneijder, Stekelenburg

Before the match

Both teams are fielding just about their strongest teams, but minus a few players. Brazil is missing Elano (injured) and Ramirez (suspended), while the Dutch are bleak about missing Joris Mathijsen in defence, after he picked up an injury while warming up. He’s replaced by André Ooijer. On Thursday, the Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk publicly confirmed the rumours of strife and general animosity among the Dutch star players, but explained that it didn’t impact the team performance. And he is greatly encouraged by Robben’s complete recovery and his second start in a row.

Starting line-ups

  • 1st minute: Van Persie goes to ground in Brazil’s penalty box and is lucky not to receive a yellow card.

It looks obvious that both heavy rains and heavy use have exacted a toll, and Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium pitch doesn’t look very good.

  • 8th minute: Robinho scores but Dani Alves was judged to be offside. Only marginally, though.
  • 10th minute: Brazil score and the stadium erupts! An absolutely brilliant 40 metre pass by Melo dissected the Dutch defence and served the ball straight into the path of galloping Robinho, who coolly slotted the ball into Stekelenburg’s net. A masterpiece!

Photo: Brazil's Robinho (R) celebrates with team mate Luis Fabiano after scoring against Netherlands during the 2010 World Cup quarter-final soccer match in Port Elizabeth July 2, 2010. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen

  • 11th minute: Kuyt’s shot from the left-wing position is deflected into the corner by Cesar.

The Dutch find themselves in an unknown situation: for the first time at this World Cup, they are behind and will probably have to throw away their usual calculated style and do their best to attack and equalise. They have the quality: we will now see if they have guts to do it.

  • 14th minute: Heitinga gets the first yellow card of the game for kicking Luis Fabiano. Dani Alves’s shot from the resulting free kick misses the goal by far.
  • 17th minute: Van Persie’s long-range free kick is an embarrassment.
  • 25th minute: De Yong brings down Kaka, to howls of protest from penalty-demanding Brazilian supporters. From the resulting corner, Alves finds an unmarked Juan, who shoots powerfully, but over the crossbar. Stekelenburg is livid with van Persie, who was supposed to cover Juan.

The noise on the pitch is deafening.

  • 29th minute: Short corner for Brazil. The Dutch penalty box has the feel of a boiling cauldron, but Fabiano’s final header is weak. He was fully uncovered, though. It looks as if Mathijsen’s no-show is hurting the Dutch defence even more than initially suspected.
  • 31st minute: Kaka’s brilliant shot is stopped by an even more brilliant save from Stekelenburg.

Photo: Netherlands' goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg makes a save during their 2010 World Cup quarter-final soccer match against Brazil in Port Elizabeth July 2, 2010. REUTERS/Michael Kooren

  • 34th minute: The corner for the Dutch is bizarrely taken by Robben, who pretended he didn’t take it while just touching the ball. Nothing came of it.
  • 36th minute: Sneijder’s long-range free kick is powerfully struck but flies straight into Cesar, who doesn’t spill it.
  • 37th minute: Michael Bastos finally gets a yellow card after repeatedly fouling Robben. Dunga, as usual, loses his cool. He really needs to watch his temper.
  • 43rd minute: Free kick for Brazil, after Van Persie fouls Maicon. Maicon’s free kick is well-measured but is deflected well by the Dutch defence.

End of the first half. The Dutch were completely outplayed by the rampaging Brazilians.

Second half

  • 46th minute: Van Der Wiel gets a yellow card for simulating. Will they EVER learn?

The Dutch have pushed Sneijder up front, right next to van Persie. They more or less have no other choice if they are to do something about reaching Brazil’s net. The problem is, they are emphatically the junior partner in this dance.

  • 50th minute: Sneijder’s shot is closer to the out line than to the goal.
  • 53rd minute: The Dutch score! Julio Cesar committed a gigantic mistake by trying to scoop up Sneijder’s deep cross and, in the process, made Melo deflect the ball into his net. A disaster. And another example of the Netherlands scoring a goal without really knowing much about it. Cesar is one of the best keepers in the world but his mistake may cost Brazil dearly.

Is this going to be another World Cup performance where Brazil is undone by their defensive errors? The stupid goal they allowed appears to have taken some of the wind out of their sails.

Photo: Brazil's Felipe Melo scores an own goal past his goalkeeper Julio Cesar during the 2010 World Cup quarter-final soccer match against Netherlands in Port Elizabeth July 2, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

  • 61st minute: Dani Alves’s shot from 25 metres flies past Stekelenburg’s far post.
  • 62nd minute: Gilberto Melo replaces Bastos, who was in great danger of earning a second yellow card for his continual fouling of Robben. Dunga has apparently learnt from the mistake he made when he failed to act on Kaka’s problems during the Ivory Coast game.
  • 64th minute: De Yong gets a yellow card of his own, after fouling Robinho.
  • 65th minute: Brazil appear to have some energy back. Kaka’s intelligent shot drifted just wide of Stekelenburg’s left post.
  • 68th minute: The Dutch score again! Another deadly break, this time from van Persie’s corner, who picked up Kuyt’s flick that landed straight on Sneijder’s forehead.

The game is set for a boiling last 20 minutes of regulation time. Brazil will attack with all their might and the Dutch will defend with all their trickery – expect them to button down. Time for the connoisseurs to savour – if you’re not a Brazilian or Dutch citizen.

  • 73rd minute: A red card for Brazil’s Felipe Melo. He fully deserves it, after kicking and stomping on Robben after he fell on the ground. So far, Robben has attracted the majority of Brazil’s fouls, forcing Bastos’s replacement and now Melo’s exit.

Photo: Referee Yuichi Nishimura of Japan flashes the red card to Brazil's Felipe Melo (5) for his foul on Netherlands' Arjen Robben (2nd R) during the 2010 World Cup quarter-final soccer match in Port Elizabeth July 2, 2010. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

  • 75th minute: Robben plays the victim again and almost starts open warfare with Robinho. He is a sly fox, that man.
  • 76th minute: Ooijer gets a yellow card for time wasting. The Japanese referee has his hands full, and it ain’t gonna get any easier.
  • 79th minute: The Dutch counter-attack is not successful but it shows how the rest of the game is going to be played, with Robben most likely to split Brazil’s thin defences.
  • 80th minute: A free kick to the Dutch: Van Persie sends the ball into the lower orbit.
  • 81st minute: Lucio’s shot after the corner was deflected into the corner again. Stekelenburg barely touched the ball, which was virtually on the goal line, only to be sent out by Kuyt.
  • 83rd minute: The Brazilian defence is not communicating at all, as Cesar and Juan run into each other.
  • 84th minute: Sneijder has a clear shot at goal from 12 metres, but it goes straight into Cesar. From the counter-attack Kaka’s shot is too limp to trouble Stekelenburg.
  • 85th minute: Van Persie is replaced by Huntelaar, but this time he’s not screaming at the coach the way he did in the match against Slovakia.

Brazil, demoralised and with 10 players, is lacking the oomph to enforce one of their trademark comebacks. It looks grim for them.

  • 88th minute: Van Bommel cynically fouls Lucio in front of the penalty box. Dani Alves shoots straight into the Dutch wall.

Brazil will not score more goals tonight. No ways. The Dutch are much more likely to slice the one past Brazil’s suffering back four.

Brazil now throws in all they have.

  • 93rd minute: Just as he was about to score, Robben saw the ball stolen from his feet.
  • 93:05: The end. They’ve done it! The Dutch have killed Brazil’s 2010 World Cup dreams.

By Branko Brkic

Photo: Netherlands' Arjen Robben (L) celebrates with John Heitinga after the 2010 World Cup quarter-final soccer match between Netherlands and Brazil in Port Elizabeth July 2, 2010. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

  • Andy Rice
    andy rice
    Andy Rice

    Andy Rice is a founding partner of Yellowwood Future Architects, a marketing strategy consultancy. In his other lives, he is the southern hemisphere's only supporter of Cambridge United Football Club, and was once upon a time the South African National Spoofing Champion. He has played football at Wembley and cricket at Lord's within the same weekend, but troubled the scorer on neither occasion. Things could only go up from here.

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