BRASÍLIA – A humiliated Brazil and downhearted Netherlands challenge for third place at the World Cup on Saturday in a match that will be quickly forgotten by teams already busy looking to the future.
The third-place match at the Mane Garincha National Stadium in Brasilia is part of the build-up to Sunday’s final between Germany and Argentina in Rio de Janeiro.
For Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari the match, starting at 2000 GMT, is too soon after his side’s 7-1 semi-final drubbing by Germany to be festive, and the Brazilian media are already debating whether the next coach should be a foreigner.
The Netherlands, meanwhile, are still drained by their penalty shoot-out defeat to Argentina and Dutch tactician Louis van Gaal will have his mind on moving to Manchester United for the new season.
Injured Brazil striker Neymar will be at the National Stadium, and Brazil captain Thiago Silva, who was suspended for the semi-final mauling, hopes the country can restore some pride by winning the third-place clash.
“The motivation is there, for me anyway. It is different of course to trying to finish in first place but we have to do everything to turn the page,” said the Paris Saint-Germain defender.
“We will be up against opponents of great quality who are only here because they missed penalties. Their team is much the same as that which beat us four years ago.”
The Netherlands beat Brazil 2-1 in the 2010 quarter-finals with a line-up containing five players who also started against Argentina on Wednesday.
– Last appearances –
While van Gaal bows out, this could also be the last World Cup apearance for Holland’s star trio of Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder, who will all be well into their 30s when the next tournament starts in Russia in 2018.
The Dutch were desperately disappointed after holding out Lionel Messi for 120 minutes in a goalless semi-final in Sao Paulo and then losing 4-2 on penalties.
Van Gaal at first said the third-place match should “never be played”, but he changed his version on Friday to say: “We are going to do everything to finish third.
“We want to leave the World Cup unbeaten, something a Dutch side has never achieved.”
Midfielder Leroy Fer, hurt in the group stage, is the only injury absentee for the Dutch, with the rest of the squad fit.
“I’ll use the players I think are mentally the strongest. The mind is stronger than the body,” the coach said.
There will be no widespread alterations to the Brazil line-up, with Scolari admitting only that he will make “two or three” changes.
One will be the return of Silva, and another could be the introduction of his PSG colleague Maxwell, who has not featured at all so far, at left-back.
In attack, the heavily-criticised Fred may drop out to make way for Jo, as Brazil look to finish on a high, just as injured star Neymar has urged them to do.
“We need to approach Saturday’s game as if it were the final and finish the World Cup smiling, with a victory,” said the 22-year-old, who fractured a bone in his back in the quarter-final win over Colombia.
“It is not going to lessen the pain, but it is important.”