This conclusion is informed by intuition — who wants to play for third place? — and by comments from
Louis van Gaal, who said: “I think that this match should never be played. The worst thing is that there is a chance you are going to lose twice in a row. And in a tournament in which you have played so marvelously well, you go home as a loser.”
So yes, obviously van Gaal isn’t excited about this game; however, let’s not make hasty assumptions about how the shamed Brazilian team and 200 million bitter Brazilians feel about the match happening today at 4 EDT in the Estádio Nacional de Brasilia.
For Brazil, this match is the first and best chance to prove it has an elite football team and that its 7-1 destruction at the hands of Germany was a fluke.
“I know my career will be marked by this defeat, but we have an obligation to move on and think about the next goal, which in this case is the match for third place on Saturday in Brasilia,” Brazil Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. “I know it’s a much smaller dream that we all wanted, but we have to honour the shirt of the national team.”
“”I just wanted to give joy to the people who suffer so much,” Brazil captain David Luiz said after the semifinal loss. “Unfortunately we could not, sorry everyone, all Brazilians. I just wanted to see people smiling. Everyone knows how important it was for me. I wanted to see everyone happy. They were better prepared. It is a day of great sadness and a lot of learning too.”
Don’t think Scolari, Luiz, and the rest of the team aren’t desperate to win this game. Don’t think they aren’t desperate to avoid another string of newspapers front pages like the ones on Wednesday that declared the semifinal loss the “Shame Of All Shames,” “Mourning, Shame, Shame, Humiliation, Blackout,” “Humiliation At Home,” and so forth.
And it would make a difference to their reputation.
After all, the Netherlands is a powerful Northern European team (like Germany) that only got knocked out of the tournament by a penalty shootout. Van Gaal has all but said that his team is unbeaten but for a technicality. If Brazil can win, it would send a message — assuming van Gaal doesn’t spoil the chance by playing in bench.
If Brazil wins today and Germany beats Argentina on Sunday, then Brazilians could claim to have perhaps the third best team in the world, having lost only to the dominant Germans.
If Brazil loses today, well, if they have any self-respect then they won’t collapse like they did on Tuesday. And it should be a close game. Brazil, the favourite going into the tournament, is an elite team, but they need to prove it today more than ever.
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