World Cup Daily Digest: Brazil's Tournament Ends with One Final Embarrassment

Alex Dimond@alexdimondUK Lead WriterJuly 12, 2014

They hoped this tournament would end with the biggest party the country has ever seen. Instead, it ended with a second successive embarrassment. One held right in their front room.

The scoreline was nowhere near as bad this time, although the performance was arguably in the same ballpark of downright awful.

On Saturday, Brazil lost 3-0 to the Netherlands in the World Cup's third-place play-off, with one getting the sense that only Louis van Gaal's decision to rein his side in during the second half prevented the scoreline from being a bit nearer the 7-1 demolition Germany handed out to the Selecao in the semi-finals.

The Dutch actually started at an even faster pace than the Germans, taking the lead after just three minutes through Robin van Persie's emphatic penalty.

Brazil should have been down to 10 men, too—Thiago Silva's foul obviously preventing a clear goalscoring opportunity—although the referee bizarrely brandished only a yellow. In fairness, it should have been a free-kick not a penalty, but that is the question to bring up with the official himself.

The lead was double 15 minutes later, through another inexplicable piece of defending. David Luiz, who, let us not forget, was transferred for £50 million at the start of the summer, made the ridiculous decision to head Jonathan de Guzman's cross back into the middle of the penalty area, where Daley Blind was waiting (unmarked) to fire it home.

For Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, who was due to meet Brazilian FA officials later in the evening about his future employment, this was another brutally disorganised display.

There was little credit to be taken from any part of this performance, with Oscar the lone man struggling against the sea of mediocrity around him.

When Georginio Wijnaldum beat Julio Cesar at his near post with 10 minutes remaining (seriously, has Cesar made even one save that was any harder than "routine" during this tournament?), the scoring was finished and so was the humiliation. 

In principle the third-place play-off is something of a waste of time, but you would struggle to agree with that considering the differing moods of the two teams after the final whistle.

While Brazil trudged off embarrassed and humbled, the Dutch team collected their bronze medals with a sense of satisfaction, of a job well-done. Almost all of the first-team regulars have enhanced their reputation over the course of this tournament, along with their coach.

Van Gaal now heads for Manchester United, where hopes will be higher than ever that he is the man to restore the club to former glories. Scolari, meanwhile, may be out of a job before Sunday's World Cup final even starts—with his future employment prospects surely vastly reduced after two such abject performances.

It is a lot to come from a game that had little of real note riding on it. Twenty-three hours later (the final, for some reason, starts an hour earlier), there could not be more riding on the outcome.

After a great tournament, let's hope we get a final worthy of what came before it. Essentially, let's hope neither side plays like Brazil did in either of their final two games.


Results in briefDay 31

Netherlands 3, Brazil 0
(Van Persie, Blind, Wijnaldum)

The Netherlands finish third (Brazil finish fourth).

1. Notes from Day 31

Fail Cesar... The penalty shootout against Chile apart, Julio Cesar was truly woeful throughout this competition. Brazil conceded 10 goals in their final two matches. While the best goalkeeper in the world could not have changed the final results, a halfway decent one could surely have gotten close to halving that figure. 

Take only what you need... The tangible value of this match was best illustrated by Van Persie, who handed his bronze medal to a young Dutch fan approximately five minutes after he was awarded it. Apparently, it will not be joining the collection of club medals he presumably keeps at home.

Cash rules everything... Scolari conspicuously declined to resign during his post-match press conference, seemingly leaving the Brazil FA to fire him (and pay him compensation) or let his contract expire if it wants to move on from his ultimately disappointing reign. There is still plenty of time for the resignation letter to come, but it would surely be an even more embarrassing end if he hangs around until either of the other two options arrive.

Deja vu of a different kind... For the second time in this World Cup, Dutch goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen was taken off in the closing minutes of a knockout game. This time, however, it was for sentimental reasons—as Michel Vorm became the 23rd and final Dutch player to make an appearance at some point in this competition. It was a nice touch from Van Gaal.


2. Quote of the Day


3. Tweet of the Day

Honorable mentions...


4. Goal of the Day

In a field of three, Daley Blind edges it with a composed finish from inside the box; not too sure about David Luiz's defending, however.


5. A good day for...

Argentina fans in Rio de Janeiro. By all accounts, they really enjoyed watching Brazil's demise on the Copacabana, as they enter the city in the thousands ahead of the biggest game of their lives on Sunday evening.


6. A bad day for...

Djamel Haimoudi. In the second minute the Algerian referee made a heinous decision, opting to book Thiago Silva and award a penalty to the Dutch when it was obvious that it should have been a free-kick and a red card (for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity).

Then, in the second half, he awarded the first yellow card for simulation of the tournament, after Oscar went down in the box after a challenge from Blind. Yet the contact was so hard, Blind was forced off injured by it—the clearest indication possible that it should have been a penalty. It was a horrible day for the man in the middle.


7. Tomorrow's schedule

Germany vs. Argentina (World Cup final: 8 p.m. BST/ 3 p.m. ET)

Finally, after all the talking, predicting and, yes, playing, this is the game we have all been waiting for. Germany face Argentina in the Maracana, with the winner succeeding Spain as champions of the world.

In many places it has been characterised as "Messi versus The Machine"; the greatest player of his generation against one of the greatest international sides.

There is a kernel of truth to that but, as with almost anything, it is an oversimplification. Messi was integral to Argentina's group-stage progress, but since then it has been the rock-solid defence that has played the most important role in taking the team to the final.

Germany, of course, come into the final off the back of that 7-1 win over Brazil, so they should be full of confidence. Their team seems to have settled into place the longer the tournament has gone on, a great omen with just one match still to go.

The Europeans are the favourites, but for many this is set up to be Messi's defining moment. It promises to be a great encounter.


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