Brazil hosts the end of the 2014 World Cup on July 13. But for Brazil, the World Cup technically ended on July 12, even if it really ended days before that. At the least, the host nation hoped that its team would get some pride back in its third place match with the Netherlands -- but it lost what little it had left in a 3-0 defeat instead.
Like in the semifinal with Germany on July 8, Brazil was taken out of the match in the opening moments. This time around, returning captain Thiago Silva nearly got himself taken out in the second minute, with a hit on Arjen Robben as he broke away. While Silva escaped with a yellow card instead of a red, the Netherlands still got a penalty kick and a prompt 1-0 lead thanks to Robin van Persie.
It took 11 minutes for Germany to start scoring in the semifinal, and it took 23 minutes for it to get a 2-0 lead. In this case, the Netherlands waited until the 17'th minute to go up by two goals, after Daley Blind capitalized on a turnover. At that point, another five goal barrage against Brazil might have seemed inevitable, but its defense held up this time until the 91'st minute, when all was already lost.
The Brazilians were blown out of the World Cup semifinals, yet they merely looked lifeless in the third place game. Although the Netherlands suffered an equally bitter and much closer loss in the semifinals to Argentina, they at least had the pride to play for something afterwards. It paid off in an easier than expected win against a top-ranked world power that was a shell of its former self -- which is how the Dutch started the tournament against Spain a month ago.
Nevertheless, the Netherlands are leaving another World Cup without their first championship, even if this is their first third-place finish. The Dutch technically took a step back after losing the 2010 final, while Brazil technically took a step forward after two straight quarterfinal losses. But in every other way, the Netherlands and the Brazilians went in much different directions.
Both the Dutch and Brazil will face much pressure to do better in the 2018 World Cup -- although the Netherlands stands to face a much more lenient microscope by comparison.