Brazil 2014 third place match: A game Brazil can’t afford to lose

Brazil`s astounding 7-1 semi-final thrashing by a rampant Germany ended their dream of winning a sixth World Cup, and a first on home soil, and plunged the nation into despair

After Brazil’s semi-final humiliation, it is clear that anything less than a win in Saturday`s third-place match against The Netherlands will deepen the gloom hanging over the World Cup hosts.
Brazil`s astounding 7-1 semi-final thrashing by a rampant Germany ended their dream of winning a sixth World Cup, and a first on home soil, and plunged the nation into despair.
There is still the prospect, an appalling one for many Brazilians, that arch-rivals, Argentina, could win Sunday’s final in Rio de Janeiro.
Although third spot would be scant consolation for many, the match is one Brazil and under-fire coach, Luiz Scolari, must take very seriously.
By contrast, Scolari`s Dutch counterpart, Louis van Gaal, whose side exceeded many people’s expectations by reaching the last four, has said the third-place game is pointless.
This will also keep the pressure on the hosts, who now have to win a game they had never expected they would be playing in.
Savaged in the local media after the Germany match, Scolari has labeled the semi-final disaster the worst day of his life.
He and his staff are widely expected to step aside after the tournament whether they beat the Dutch or not.
He said: “I have a deal with the Brazil Football Federation, which will end after the game on Saturday and after that, probably, we will have a conversation to sort some things out.
“I will continue with my life, the players will also continue to be winners and we must continue.
“History will have to record that Brazil, for the first time since 2002, reached the semi-finals.”
Van Gaal has also come in for criticism to make the weight of pressure balance delicately on both sides.
His side, after beginning the tournament by thrashing holders Spain 5-1, have failed to score in either their quarter-final tie against Costa Rica or Wednesday’s semi–final against Argentina.
They beat the Costa Ricans on penalties but lost their shootout to Argentina when goalkeeper Sergio Romero stopped two Dutch spot-kicks.
The Netherlands have never won the FIFA World Cup finals in spite of reaching the final match three times.
They lost in 1974 and 1978 to the then West Germany and Argentina respectively and were beaten 1-0 by Spain in South Africa four years ago.
Brazil and the Netherlands have played 11 times, and four times at the World Cup, including the quarter-final in 2010 when the Dutch came from behind to win 2-1.
But with the pressure of looking for a crucial win in “an unimportant match”, Brazil should be spurred on by the presence at the stadium of the injured Neymar.
His presence, as well as the return of team captain Thiago Silva, should help Brazil end their World Cup campaign in third-place.
Anything short of a victory would be an added disaster, likely to bring up the bottled anger of losing badly in the semi-finals.

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