Brazil sees toughest test ahead vs. Dutch
Now the World Cup really begins.
That's how five-time champion Brazil feels after cruising into the quarter-finals with a 3-0 win over Chile on Monday. Coach Dunga and his players know they will truly get tested against the Netherlands on Friday.
"We know the Netherlands are a very difficult team to play against," Dunga said. "Their football is actually very similar to South American football. They don't try to stay defending and rely on long balls. They have technical quality and we will need to be ready for that. It's a solid team."
Brazil hasn't faced many difficulties in South Africa so far.
It easily won Group G by beating North Korea 2-1, Ivory Coast 3-1 and drawing 0-0 with Portugal. It then faced a Chile side it has dominated in recent years. The Chileans didn't pose much threat at Ellis Park, and Brazil advanced.
"Now it's a match between two traditional teams with great players," Brazil captain Lucio said. "Now the matches will get harder and harder."
Although the Netherlands doesn't have many titles, it has been an international force for years. It has been nearly flawless in this year's World Cup, winning all of its matches against Denmark, Japan, Cameroon and Slovakia, the latter a 2-1 result in the second round. The Dutch are unbeaten in 23 matches.
"It's a world football classic," said Robinho, who scored his first World Cup goal in the match against Chile. "It's going to be like a final."
Defender Juan and striker Luis Fabiano also scored for Brazil in Monday's victory, the team's eighth in a row against the South American rival.
It will be the fourth World Cup match between Brazil and the Netherlands, and Brazil has won two of them. The Dutch won a second-round match in the 1974 tournament in Germany, but the Brazilians beat the Dutch 3-2 in the 1994 quarterfinals in the United States, and succeeded in a penalty shootout in the 1998 semifinals in France.
"We are talking about great teams with great players," Brazil midfielder Kleberson said. "It's going to be hard for everybody."
In the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Brazil fell 1-0 in the quarterfinals to eventual runner-up France.
Dunga knows from experience the difficulties of facing the Dutch. The former defensive midfielder played in the 1994 quarterfinals and in the 1998 semifinals.
"We know the Netherlands has a tradition of playing well in the World Cup," the coach said of a nation that was runner-up in 1974 and 1978.
The Brazilians are eager for the Dutch continue to attack in the match at Port Elizabeth, allowing space for Brazil's attackers.
"I hope they keep playing forward," Luis Fabiano said. "If they do that, they will run some risks and that's going to be good for us."
Brazil may be without some starters for Friday's match. Midfielders Elano and Felipe Melo didn't recover from ankle injuries in time to face the Chileans and remain doubtful.
Elano left practice early on Tuesday after apparently feeling pain in his right ankle. He was undergoing a light workout with the rest of the players but had to cut it short after consulting with team doctors.
Ramires, who replaced Felipe Melo on Monday, received his second yellow card and will not be available.