Saturday, 12 July 2014

Brazil, Holland battle for third place

Germany’s forward Thomas Mueller (centre) with Brazil’s Luiz Gustavo (right) and Dante (left), during their semi-final...on Tuesday
It is with great sense of pain that hosts Brazil and the Netherlands file out today to play the third-place match in the 2014 World Cup. The few Brazilians who spoke with The PUNCH say they are no longer interested in the competition as a third-place win is just the same as a fourth-place finish.
They argue that winning on Saturday can never be like winning the trophy itself on Sunday or least participating in the final game.
Indeed their sentiment was deeply expressed by Louis van Gaal after his team lost to Argentina in Wednesday’s semi-final match.
Facing the world press on Wednesday, Holland’s van Gaal lashed out at the third-place match billed for Brasilia. The Dutch manager believes the match should have been scrapped so many years ago.
He said, “I think this match should never be played. I’ve been saying this for 10 years. But we’ll just have to play this match.”
He said that the match condemns the losers to finish a tournament after another defeat, and that one side always has an extra day’s rest.
“It’s unfair also because we have one less day to recover, so that’s not fair play. But the worst thing is that chances are you lose twice in a row.
“And after a tournament in which you’ve played so marvellously well, you’d go home as a loser just because you’ve lost the last two matches.
“This has got nothing whatsoever to do with sport. But I said this 15 years ago. You shouldn’t have players play a match for third or fourth place, because there’s only one prize that counts and that’s becoming champion.”

It is very difficult to say which team would win the match in Brasilia. The players of both sides are still in shock and pain. No expert has been able to explain what happened with the usually fantastic Brazil against Germany.
But their coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has urged his players and his country to move on from that devastating defeat he called “astonishing” on Tuesday.
The humiliation brought on a nation by the 7-1 defeat is still fresh but Scolari insists they have to move on and recover quickly.
He started this way, “I know my career will be marked by this defeat but we have an obligation to move on, thinking about the next goal, which in this case is the match for third place in Brasilia.
“I know it’s a much smaller dream than we all wanted but we have to honour the shirt of the national team. The tournament was not all bad. We had a bad defeat.”
Scolari’s future is still not clear. But many journalists in Brazil for the World Cup believe that he will likely resign after the game today or be asked to go. Nobody is certain for now except the man and the Brazilian federation.
On that he said, “We (coaching staff) have a deal with the CBF (Brazilian Football Confederation) until the game on Saturday and after that, probably, we will have a conversation to sort some things out.
“After the World Cup, we will submit a report to the board of the CBF where you will see the good and the bad that we did and then it depends on the direction.
“There is nothing going through my head right now. I will continue with my life, the players will also continue to be winners and we must continue – you cannot end the life of the players for it.
“History will have to record that Brazil, for the first time since 2002, reached the semi-finals.”
His future may not be certain but what the fans of football across the world know is that the match in Brasilia will not attract the kind of excitement like the first round matches. It is also certain that fans of both countries may not be as enthusiastic as they were when the competition kicked off on June 12. But whichever way they feel, there is a room for the game in the fixtures and it just has to be played anyway.

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