World Cup third place play-off preview: Brazil v Netherlands
Brazil may be odds-on at 4/6 to finish third at this World Cup, and 11/10 to pick up bronze in 90 minutes with Coral, but they have won just one of seven meetings with the Netherlands since knocking them out of the 1994 World Cup.
Clockwork Orange avenged that at the last tournament in South Africa, however, with Wesley Sneijder proving the difference between the two sides. He bagged a brace in a 2-1 victory. Sneijder scoring two or more again is 20/1 and something of a long shot, while odds of 7/2 say he will be on target anytime.
A repeat result of the 2010 quarter-final, 2-1 to the Dutch, comes in at 11/1. Louis van Gaal is not relishing the prospect, however, of playing a game nobody really wants to be involved in. “This match should never be played. I’ve been saying that for 10 years; it’s unfair,” he said.
“There is only one award that counts and that is becoming world champions. 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 marvellously well you go home as a loser.”
Punters must hope Van Gaal’s attitude doesn’t rub off on his players. The Netherlands are 6/5 to scoop third place, and 23/10 to win in 90 minutes. A draw in normal time, meanwhile, which has been the outcome in five of the last seven meetings, comes in at 14/5.
Nonetheless, we can expect some fringe players to be involved here for both nations. Michel Vorm could start in goal for the Dutch as the Swansea stopper is yet to see any action at this tournament. Odds of 9/2 say Clockwork Orange will keep a clean sheet.
Van Gaal may select Memphis Depay (10/3 to net anytime) on the wing and Jonathan de Guzman (6/1), who Vorm’s Swans are trying to bring to the Liberty Stadium permanently, in midfield. How seriously the Netherlands national boss will take this game remains to be seen, so don’t be surprised if standout performers Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben have a watching brief.
Brazil’s star turn Neymar is still nobbled, but skipper Thiago Silva is back from a ban. He could start alongside Napoli defender Henrique, because the Samba Boys centre half pairing from the semi-final, David Luiz and Dante, conceded seven. In like fashion, the full backs could be rotated with Dani Alves and Maxwell starting in place of Maicon and Marcelo.
Oscar netted the consolation in that match, his second of the tournament. Chelsea’s attacking midfielder is 2/1 to add to his tournament tally anytime in 90 minutes. Hernanes could be included alongside him, and the Inter Milan man is 4/1 in that market.
Jo (2/1) may get a go up front, although the now much-maligned Phil Scolari has stuck blindly with Fred in that lone striker berth. Willian looks set for a spot on the wing after coming on and helping to lift a shattered Brazil in the second half of the semi. The Chelsea player is 11/2 to net anytime.