Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has hit back at claims Brazil will be able to "pick and choose" their opponents for the second round of the World Cup.
Scolari's agitated reaction comes after Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal complained of dirty “tricks” and a lack of “fair play.”
Per Brian Homewood of Reuters, the Dutch boss has taken issue with the fact his team will play their third and final group game before the hosts, despite playing their first two games after them.
Scolari has reacted furiously to the notion that his team may not try their utmost to win their game against Cameroon, which kicks off at 9 p.m. BST, in order to pick who they play out of Netherlands and Chile:
Some people expressed a view that we were going to choose who we were going to play. Those sorts of comments are either stupid or ill-intentioned, I repeat stupid or ill-intentioned.
We have to play to qualify, not pick and choose our opponents. It was FIFA who chose the kick-off time.
When pressed on the issue further, Scolari insisted the person who had been making these claims was “somebody who is talking nonsense.”
Having gotten a rise from an opposite number by making a few scything complaints, the similarities between the new Manchester United boss and Sir Alex Ferguson are easy to identify. Dutch football expert Elko Born thinks Van Gaal’s latest outburst was a calculated one and a ploy that Ferguson would have indulged in himself:
For Manchester United fans, this is a taste of things to come when it comes to Van Gaal; often abrasive, nonplussed by upsetting the applecart and fiercely supportive of his team.
The flames seem to have been stoked ahead of a potential meeting between the two, with the winners of Group A set to meet the runners-up of Group B on Saturday, and the Group B winners meeting the Group A runners-up on Sunday. The Dutch have already qualified for the knockout phase of the tournament, while Brazil need to avoid defeat against Cameroon to progress.
The hosts are under massive pressure to go far in this tournament, and with a clash between the two sides looming, this may have been an attempt by Van Gaal to stir up some controversy in hopes of luring Scolari's eye off the ball.
Brazil should beat Cameroon—arguably the worst team in the competition—in their final group game with consummate ease. The Selecao need to put in a dominant performance to confirm their qualification and accrue some much-needed momentum ahead of the knockout stage, especially if they're going to face the Oranje, who have been excellent in their wins over Australia and Spain.
Van Gaal knows that. Scolari knows it, too. The only surprise is that the experienced Brazil boss rose to the Netherlands manager’s accusation instead of just shrugging his shoulders and moving on.
A clash between these two sides would have been enticing enough at face value, but with this developing feud between giants of management, a Brazil-Netherlands clash in the last 16 could be one of the most enthralling spectacles of what's already been an engrossing tournament.