Injured striker Neymar will be present in the dug-out to cheer on his low on morale team mates as Brazil try to rescue some of their battered pride.
Injured striker Neymar will be present in the dug-out to cheer on his low on morale team mates as Brazil try to rescue some of their battered pride after their humiliating World Cup semifinal defeat to Germany by beating the Netherlands in Saturday’s third-place play-off in Brasilia.
It is the one game that no team ever wants to take part in, but the encounter at the Mane Garrincha National Stadium took on extra significance after the hosts’ dream of lifting the trophy at the Maracana 24 hours later was ended by their record 7-1 loss against the Germans.
The match could prove to be Luiz Felipe Scolari’s last game in charge, and the coach is likely to make changes to a team whose confidence has been so badly damaged. Brazil will see the return of skipper Thiago Silva after suspension, while his Paris Saint-Germain colleague Maxwell, the only outfield player yet to feature, may play a part.
Despite Neymar’s rallying cry, almost all of those involved in Brasilia would rather be elsewhere, with Daniel Alves having made clear his lack of appetite for the bronze-medal clash.
On the other hand, the mood in the Dutch camp is the same. The ‘Oranje’ have a day less to prepare for the match after their agonising defeat on penalties to Argentina in Wednesday’s second semis in Sao Paulo. However, in contrast to Brazil, Holland will be able to look back on a campaign which started with a 5-1 thumping of Spain as a success.
Nevertheless, the way in which Van Gaal’s superbly-organised side have performed throughout the competition suggests they are quite capable of inflicting more pain on Brazil. With the sole exception of third-choice goalkeeper Michel Vorm, every member of the Dutch squad has played some part at the tournament, but Van Gaal may choose to give younger players such as Jordy Clasie and Memphis Depay a run-out from the start here.
Meanwhile, Nigel de Jong could miss out after surprisingly featuring for an hour against Argentina, just 10 days after tearing a groin muscle in the last-16 win over Mexico. The match will be the fifth meeting of the countries at the World Cup, with both sides having recorded two victories so far. The Netherlands emerged 2-1 winners in the last eight in South Africa four years ago.
Prediction – Brazil to win 3-2