Saturday in Brasilia, Brazil, the Dutch National Football Team ensured the work the German team began was completed. Holland restored the balance in the cosmos of the football world beating the hapless Brazilians, again, at home, 3-0, in a game that mattered to the hosts and barely did to the Europeans. The score line was generous, the Netherlands were every bit as much the better team today as the Germans had been in their earlier clash with this Brazilian team.
In case anyone on the globe had missed the message, Brazil is not good this year. The second message has been, don’t bring anything but your “A” game to the World Cup or you will be embarrassed. This is the one time when all of the world’s football stars, all of the planet’s good players and top coaches, and many aspiring stars, come together to try to outdo each other. Fielding an inferior team when facing a top-notch one is not a good idea.
At the three minute mark, Arjen Robben broke away on a beautiful Robin van Persie through ball which no one on the Brazilian side seemed ready or able to defend. Thiago Silva, the last defender between Robben and Brazilian keeper Julio Cesar, had to come to the rescue and grab Robben from behind just before he stepped into the box.
The infraction was a red card foul, but not a penalty. The penalty was awarded but not the red card. So, van Persie took the penalty and placed it beautifully out of the diving grasp of Cesar for the game’s opening score.
Unfortunately, it looks like we are going to have another poorly officiated game, this time courtesy of Algerian referee Djamel Haimoudi.
The Brazilians went into their post-first-goal-against-Germany frenzy and their completely frantic play led to a simple cross into the box being defended ridiculously by Luiz. He headed the ball softly and back toward the middle of the box. No other Brazilian defender was there, but Daley Blind was there. Before any of the four Brazilian defenders within reach could react, and just before the farthest Brazilian, Cesar, came closest to close in on him, the Dutch player had completed his reaction.
Blind had time to three-touch the ball into the goal. First he trapped it. Then he placed it just so for his right footed kick. Then he struck it hard and high from about the penalty spot for the second score at the 15:57 mark. This, of course, simply put the disorganized Brazilians into manic overdrive.
But the Brazilians were so out of control, so out of position, so unknowing of their roles on the pitch, that for long stretches David Luiz was the team’s center forward while Oscar was tackling in the back line. Every time midfield stoppers Luis Gustavo and Paulinho got the ball on the offensive side of the pitch they made a beeline for the Dutch goal, trying to dribble through the entire opposition and invariably losing possession.
As the second half began, two interesting things happened. The Dutch seemed convinced their two-goal advantage would suffice and their offensive push subsided, replaced with a confident defensive stance. That approach did not negate their offense, it simply put it on slumber mode until the routine Brazilian offensive play fizzled and the Dutch could counter.
The second thing that took place was that Brazilian coach, Luis Felipe Scolari, felt the correct reaction to being down two goals was to keep his team playing as they had been. So, he replaced hard-hitting defensive midfielder Luis Gustavo with harder-hitting defensive midfielder Fernandinho. He got his first yellow card at the 53:54 mark or about eight after coming in. The foul, in the midfield area, flipped van Persie and planted him for several seconds. It was an ugly, unnecessary foul.
At the 56:25 minute mark seldom used midfielder Hernanes came in for Paulinho. The change brought about not a scintilla of difference in the way Brazil played.
At the 69th minute Blind stepped on Oscar in the box and the Brazilian had just rounded him and the obvious penalty, caught perfectly in slow motion replays, was not only not called but Oscar was given a yellow card for allegedly diving.
At the 72nd minute Hulk, a striker, replaced Ramirez, a midfielder. This was Brazil’s third and last change.
At the 82nd minute Robben was clobbered from behind by Fernandinho who also managed to land on top of Robben’s head for good measure. But there was no penalty called, in fact no foul at all was called.
At the 90:38 minute mark Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnauldum shot on goal from close in for the third score of the game. The play began with an interception at midfield and three passes later the ball was in the back of the net, Cesar impotent to put up any real defense given how close the shooter was at the time.
In two games the hosts have allowed ten goals against with only one score in response. Sad to say this debacle was predictable a year ago, but it was. Also sad to say that given a chance to leave the cup with their heads held up, the Brazilians ended up further down than a few days ago. What Brazilian fans can look forward to is the next generation of stars which will include few of the players here today but will count with a healthy Neymar.