For Brazil, the 2014 World Cup ended in a whimper. After being routed by Germany 7-1 in the semifinals, the indignity continued against the Netherlands in the third-place game.
With third place on the line, the Brazilians offered another hapless performance, losing to the Dutch 3-0. Yes, that means Brazil closed the World Cup by giving up 10 goals and scoring just one in their last two games.
Really, there aren't any adjectives to properly describe that collapse. Cataclysmic might come close.
Below, we'll take a look back on the third-place match, along with reviewing the Golden Boot chase. There's still the small matter of finding out if any players in the final can catch James Rodriguez for that award, after all.
|Team 1||Result||Team 2|
Golden Boot Watch
|Robin van Persie||Netherlands||4|
|Clint Dempsey||United States||2|
|Wilfried Bony||Ivory Coast||2|
|Bryan Ruiz||Costa Rica||2|
|Angel Di Maria||Argentina||1|
|Kevin De Bruyne||Belgium||1|
|Julian Green||United States||1|
|Avdija Vrsajevic||Bosnia and Herzegovina||1|
|Lee Keun-Ho||South Korea||1|
|Joel Campbell||Costa Rica||1|
|Oscar Duarte||Costa Rica||1|
|Marcos Urena||Costa Rica||1|
|Stefan de Vrij||Netherlands||1|
|Vedad Ibisevic||Bosnia and Herzegovina||1|
|John Anthony Brooks||United States||1|
|Edin Dzeko||Bosnia and Herzegovina||1|
|Miralem Pjanic||Bosnia and Herzegovina||1|
|Son Heung Min||South Korea||1|
|Koo Jacheol||South Korea||1|
|Jermaine Jones||United States||1|
|Giovani dos Santos||Mexico||1|
Saturday's scorers highlighted
Brazilian football is about to undergo a major change.
After the 7-1 drubbing against the Germans, that much was certain. But the Brazilians were a listless, uninspired bunch against the Netherlands, too, and were the Dutch a bit more cruel and proactive, they might have beaten Brazil by a score far more lopsided than 3-0.
A small part of Brazilian football died in the past week. Reawakening it in four years for the 2018 World Cup now has to become the goal.
It was obvious pretty quickly that the Brazilians weren't quite up for this match, and it didn't take the Dutch long to strike. Within minutes, Arjen Robben had broken free and looked to be alone at goal, but Thiago Silva pulled his shoulder and Robben, as he is wont to do, accentuated the contact and fell to the floor.
Without doubt, however, a foul had been committed. Unbelievably, the official didn't give Silva a red card, instead pulling the yellow from his pocket. That wasn't the only thing he ruled incorrectly on the play—replays would show the foul had actually occurred just outside of the box.
No matter. The Dutch had a penalty, and Robin van Persie calmly stepped up to take it, ripping home game's first goal and breaking a streak he was likely quite glad to erase, per ESPN FC:
Not long after, the Brazilian defense would cost them again.
After another Dutch rush, David Luiz failed to clear a cross into the box, instead heading the ball directly to Daley Blind, who made no mistake with his shot.
So poor was Brazil's start that, well, it can be safely said the team didn't resemble a Brazilian side at all. No one put it better than the daughter of Juan Arango from World Soccer Talk:
My daughter: "Daddy, it looks like Brazil decided to play the World Cup without Brazilians."— Juan Arango (@JuanG_Arango) July 12, 2014
How right she was.
Thankfully, the Brazilians were better in the second half. Heck, they were even unlucky, as Oscar was awarded a yellow card for simulation—shockingly, the first in this tournament, while Arjen Robben surely looked on in bemusement after his flop-happy World Cup—in the box despite replays clearly showing he was fouled.
That would have cut the lead in half had Brazil been awarded the penalty and converted it. Several other chances went awry as well, as touches were poor at the wrong time or crosses weren't quite met by Brazilians in the box.
To add insult to injury, Georginio Wijnaldum would score late, sealing Brazil's fate and leaving anybody who watched them limp through the final two games left bewildered by what had transpired.
One thing that didn't change, however, was the Golden Boot chase. James Rodriguez is still in the lead, with only Thomas Mueller and Lionel Messi having a legitimate shot at catching him (Germany's Andre Schuerrle is within a hat trick of Rodriguez, but likely won't even start the final).
Mueller needs just one goal to earn the Golden Boot, since he has notched more assists (three) than Rodriguez (two). Messi, meanwhile, will likely need a hat-trick to catch Rodriguez, though he could also earn the award with two goals and two assists.
Both seem unlikely. But nothing is impossible when it comes to Messi.
Still, you'd like to see Rodriguez come away with some sort of hardware for his performance at this year's World Cup. He's unlikely to receive the Golden Ball as the top player since Colombia only reached the quarterfinals, but anyone who watched him thought he was simply superb in Brazil.
Including Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who shared his thoughts on the player with Liam Prenderville of the Mirror:
...I know Rodriguez well because he plays in the French Championship for Monaco and I was absolutely amazed by the quality of his games. For me it was the intelligence of his passing, the suppleness of him and the fluency of his game. It also was the speed of his decision making. The penetrative passes he made were just absolutely fantastic. You just wanted to see him have the ball and when you want somebody to have the ball it is always a sign of exceptional quality and he definitely has that.
That's high praise from a man who knows a thing or two about footy. And it sums up beautifully what most people who watched him play came away thinking.
Rodriguez won't win the Golden Ball. Heck, he might lose out on the Golden Boot, too. But years from now when we talk about this year's World Cup, one of the players we'll all remember is Rodriguez.
And not even Mueller or Messi can take that away from him.