Ask any sports handicapper worth his salt, and he’ll tell you that motivation is the most important factor to picking a winner in a meaningless game.
And motivation—or lack of it—has seldom been more obvious than it is in Saturday’s World Cup third-place match.
While the Netherlands came so close to getting back to the World Cup final, losing in penalties in the semifinals, their foe in Saturday’s World Cup match was thoroughly demoralized.
The host nation was shocked 7-1 by Germany, which was by far Brazil’s worst international loss ever. Their fans were destroyed, their players tearfully apologized for the performance.
So why would Brazil be the strong betting favorite in this World Cup 2014 consolation game?
“They can salvage a little pride with a win,” said Jack Randall, an analyst at OddsShark.com which provides soccer odds to Bleacher Report. “And the Dutch coach has already stated the game is meaningless and unfair and shouldn’t even be played, so how motivated are the Dutch to win here?”
Sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark has Brazil hovering around even odds with the Netherlands around 2-1 and a draw line closer to 3-1.
There was obviously no good news for the Brazil defense in the semis, but there is a little in this match with captain Thiago Silva returning. He was suspended for the Germany match and will play in this one.
He is the leader of the Brazil defense that may see some big changes in the lineup.
Brazil’s defense not only mightily struggled, but their offense did as well. They scored late after the match was well in hand and Fred, Hulk, Jo have to play much better on the attack against the Dutch.
In the semis facing Argentina, the Dutch kept a clean sheet for regulation before falling in penalties.
However, Louis van Gaal may also make some moves in the lineup, especially up front with Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie being ineffective in the last two matches.
Memphis Depay and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar may be the main attackers for the Netherlands. Brazil’s defense will be much better in this match with Silva controlling the back line.
Brazil was continually dominated in the Germany match in the midfield, as they had sloppy passing and could not control the ball for long spells. That will have to change in this match facing a Dutch midfield that looked solid, albeit conservative, in the loss to Argentina.
Both squads will have different lineups in this match and Brazil will not be embarrassed. However, the Dutch bench strikers will come through and the squad will claim third place, giving the hosts their second straight loss.
Brazil vs. Netherlands prediction: 3-1 Brazil
Stats and odds courtesy of Odds Shark, quotes obtained first-hand.