BfB Goes To The World Cup 2010 (Without leaving the front room)

The quarter finals of the World Cup of 2010 start of with the mouth watering mix of the European version of flair against South American attempts at controlled steel.

The Dutch – schooled in total football if not always practising it and possessing a good few driving creative players – are consistently the most eye catching of the European sides and as with South American stereotypes they are soft centred, and beatable.

Much has been said about Brazil and the European style they have adopted – in the blue and while they look set for Filbert Street or St Andrews – but they have enough containment to cope with most team and the death of flair is an exaggeration.

Nevertheless the opening goal of the game after ten minutes – scored by Robinho following a pass from back four to centre forward by Felipe Melo – is not a result of flair but opportunism. André Ooijer and John Heitinga left between them the kind of gap which invited a run and Robinho obliged meeting the ball as it entered the box after travelling some forty yards and sweeping in past Maarten Stekelenburg.

The Dutch reply with pressure but not product coming down the right flank but meeting a strong backline. Robin van Persie skies another free kick in a World Cup which has had so few accurate strikes and as perhaps suffered because of it.

The Brazilian touch is not lacking though and Juan hits a shot over the bar after Maicon’s work on the flank had left Dirk Kuyt chasing shadows in the box. Minutes later Maicon strides out from the back and Mark van Bommel has to stretch to keep him at bay. Kaká’s bent shot at goal forces Stekelenburg to tip wide. Brazil are poised.

Arjen Robben’s prompting up front is lost as the Dutch become isolated with the link between forwards and midfielders damaged by distance. The Dutch are forced deep and while the front men break with pace, the midfielders are too far behind.

Maicon blasts a shot out of the Carlos Alberto book of full backs hammering shots. A two goal lead would not be out of keeping with the game.

After half time The Dutch look for a lifeline and perhaps should have it when Michel Bastos – booked in the first half – drags down Robben but from the free kick van Bommel drifts a nothing cross in which Júlio César races out for and misses. The ball sails and nestles into the Brazilian goal and the pains of Michel Bastos’s sending off are largely forgotten. Felipe Melo takes credit for the own goal after jumping with Júlio César. The Dutch, it seems, are back in the game.

Michel Bastos exits for Gilberto Melo and Brazil are on the back foot, The Dutch have pushed their flank men further out wide and advanced more in the centre giving themselves more options coming forward. Kuyt, Wesley Sneijder, and van Persie combine and push the ball around Lúcio screaming for a penalty when the big central defender sees the ball hit his arm but they get nothing.

Kaká tests his range again, bending a second chance at goal but going wide. Third time the charm perhaps and it will have to be as the Dutch continue their pressure and a corner from Robben is flicked on by the increasingly wonderful to watch Kuyt and invites Wesley Sneijder to head in from some five years out, powerfully heading in.

The Dutch have come from a goal down and in Brazil one can only imagine the discussion. “This is Dunga’s defensive steel? Free headers in the box?”

The men in orange are everywhere with the ball and the Brazilians get frustrated, Felipe Melo tackles Sneijder from behind – a stand up tackle – but for little or no reason he tramples over the Dutchman to regain the ball. The red card has a feeling of inevitability and Melo does not complain.

Robinho does. Minutes after he is blasting Robben for what he sees as a dive on the touchline screaming at the winger to get up but in truth it is all that the striker has done all afternoon and the South American’s inability to cope with the slightest tactics tweak of the midfield has cost them dear. They are restricted in chances – ten men chasing a game – and have been bested not not the skills of the Dutch but by a team who were capable of moved softly, deftly between the two positions which Brazil try to decide between.

Dunga wants Brazil to have European defensive steel, the people want them to have attacking flair but they have been beaten by a Dutch side who have been able to switch gears from the one to the other.

Brazil out, The Dutch into the semi-finals and who will stop them now?

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