The party in Amsterdam (and Buenos Aires) started right after the Japanese referee blew his whistle. The Netherlands took advantage of Brazil's defensive mistakes and outscored the South Americans 2-1 to secure a spot in the semifinals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
On my weekly column at Soccerlens , I predicted this to be the toughest match—the real test for the Brazilians—and that if they passed it they would be headed for a possible historical final against Argentina.
The Netherlands are leveled with Brazil in talent, pass quality, and both teams have coaches who are more focused on winning the matches first, and then providing a spectacle.
I am sad, but if I could choose a team to eliminate Brazil I would definitely choose the Dutch.
There's nothing to complain about.
The Brazilian defense has improved tremendously in the past years to the point that it's one of the main strengths of this team. However, the two mistakes they made during this game were just enough for the Netherlands to come back from the early goal by Robinho.
It was a true World Cup playoff match. Lots of physical plays, some great plays, and a comeback.
Brazil managed to score early after a great pass from Felipe Melo found Robinho in the middle of the Dutch defense. Kaká almost scored the second, minutes later with an amazingly placed ball that forced Stekelenburg to perform an equally amazing save.
The Netherlands' strongest play with Sneijder serving Robben on the right didn't work at all in the first 45 minutes. Kuyt also didn't play all he could because he was worried about Maicon's offensive runs. Brazil dominated the first half but failed in transforming their opportunities into goals.
The second half started different for the Dutch.
Brazil still thought they could just manage the 1-0 advantage but we all know that a single goal should never make a team too comfortable. The Oranje pressured, and with a little bit of “South-Americanism” got on the nerves of the Brazilian defenders.
Felipe Melo had his head on the ball when Julio Cesar tried to anticipate a cross by Sneijder. The goalkeeper's clumsy interference forced Melo's header into his own net. That was also Brazil's first own-goal ever in a World Cup.
After the goal, the Brazilian team felt lost.
I mean, completely lost.
If they were having a hard time keeping their cool before, now the players seemed totally out of control.
The Netherlands, on the other hand, improved. The plays started to flow better on the right side, and Sneijder took over the game with class, determination, and skills. I wasn't even that surprised when the 5'7" midfielder master-mind scored a header after Kuyt deflected the ball from a corner.
The passes to Robben were now connecting and after one of those successful balls to the right side, came Felipe Melo's well-deserved red card.
At that point, I shook my head and thought—we're going to lose this match. There's no way we're coming back with 10 men, no organization, and no emotional control.
Brazil lost the match because they couldn't keep their cool and composure. They lost because they didn't attack with intelligence. Kaká had a reasonable performance. Robinho was way too angry to play at his best. Luis Fabiano didn't step on the pitch, did he?
The Netherlands won because they were persistent, determined, and focused on the task ahead of them. They were also patient and lethal when Brazil made mistakes. They gave up flair for efficiency and it paid off.
Congrats to the Netherlands, and I hope they can make it to the finals but please don't blow it like you did in 1974 and 1978.
I'll take a break until the end of the tournament now. I'll be back right after the final with news from the Brazilian League. Lots of transfer rumors and even a police case involving Flamengo's goalkeeper.
Cheers and Go Oranje!
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