Brazil vs. The Netherlands

  • 4 p.m. ET, Sunday, July 12
  • CBC TV,

What’s at stake

The Dutch think the match is meaningless. The Brazilians just want to hide in their homes. It’s the penultimate game of the World Cup, a clash that nobody wants to be in, as Brazil and the Netherlands play in the third-place match. 

Nothing other than pride is on the line for the two sides here. Both wanted to be in the final. Both are gutted not to. Brazil has more at stake, theoretically, because it wants to salvage some sort of dignity at home after suffering a devastating 7-1 humiliation at the hands of Germany. 

But honestly, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen, and whether either or both sides show up. 

Impact players

Brazil: Thiago Silva. Boy, did we realize how much the Brazil captain meant to his side after being suspended for the semifinal. The defence was in shambles in his absence, and his calming presence will be most welcome for the shattered team’s psyche.

The Netherlands: Arjen Robben. The winger will want to gain some consolation in this match, as he tries to chase away more World Cup ghosts. His miss in the 90th minute of the semi will haunt him almost as much as the chance he squandered in the 2010 final.

What to watch for

Wide-open, meaningless soccer. Normally, the third-place matches are fairly entertaining, in that neither side cares too much at the outcome — it’s either an accomplishment just to get this far (Turkey, Croatia), or a cruel and unusual punishment for a side expecting to win it all (the teams currently slated to play this time around). 

It’s exponentially worse for Brazil. Forcing the side to play in front of its home fans again, after the debacle in Estadio Mineirao on Tuesday, feels like a form of pitiless cruelty (or sweet, sweet schadenfreude, depending on your thoughts on the Selecao). Don’t be surprised if the side is jeered mercilessly by an unforgiving home nation, especially if they are trailing. 

Brazil’s defence will be better. It would be scientifically impossible for it to get any worse, unless somehow each Brazilian defender were to be replaced by upright broomsticks dressed in yellow. Captain Thiago Silva’s return will be most welcome. His back-line influence was sorely missed against Germany.

Dutch coach Louis van Gaal and Arjen Robben have both said the match is meaningless, and shouldn’t even be played. With that attitude in mind, don’t be surprised if the Dutch put out some youngsters to get some more experience.

Considering the circumstances, this might be the first time that FIFA will seriously think about removing the match from the schedule. 

(Yeah, right). 

They said it

"You shouldn't have players play a match for third and fourth place. There should only be one champion. I think that this match should never be played. I have been saying it for 10 or 15 years." — Dutch manager Louis van Gaal. 

“I will continue with my life, the players will also continue to be winners and we must continue — you can not end the life of the players for it. 'History will have to record that Brazil, for the first time since 2002, reached the semi-finals.” — Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari.

The big number

5 — This is the fifth meeting at a World cup for Brazil and the Netherlands. Both sides have two wins apiece. 

Obligatory fun fact

An Irish pub made a huge mistake when it told patrons it would discount Brazilian or German beer, whenever that team scored a goal. Seven goals later, German beer was selling at €0.50. It was a bad night.