Beaten World Cup semi-finalists Brazil and the Netherlands should both take solace in the fact they are competing in the penultimate game of the tournament in spite of the inevitable heartbreak that comes from missing Sunday’s showpiece occasion.
Both shall do battle in Brasilia for the third placed play-off, in a game largely anticipated due to the overwhelming quality and side-plots surrounding the two sides.
The world will be expecting a reaction from the beleaguered and battered hosts in the wake of Tuesday’s 7-1 drubbing by Germany, but with star striker Neymar still missing morale around the country has sunk to the lowest in recent memory.
Scolari's final match?
It could be Luiz Felipe Scolari’s final game in charge, with the man who led the country to their last World Cup triumph in 2002 widely expected to resign once the final ball of their tournament has been kicked.
Whereas for Scolari his future is shrouded in uncertainty, Netherlands manager Louis Van Gaal shall enter his final game in the helm knowing the daunting challenge of succeeding David Moyes at Manchester United awaits.
The Dutchman has coaxed wonders from the likes of Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and captain Robin Van Persie, but will miss out on travelling to Old Trafford with the ultimate stamp on his managerial record – that of a World Cup winner – after his side were beaten by Argentina on penalties.
For both sides their exit wounds will still rankle and sting, but when compared with other superpowers of the game must be proud of their efforts.
Brazil entered the tournament as the strong favourites, but the truth is that their players miss the greatness of days gone by. Only Barcelona starlet Neymar, who rose to the occasion majestically to score four times prior to his devastating injury sustained against Columbia, would be selected in the brilliant Brazilian sides of yesteryear.
Thiago Silva and David Luiz impressed despite the latter’s appalling display against the Germans, but the brilliance conjured by Neymar masked the deep, underlying truth that the players were not of a sufficient quality to deliver the title the fans craved so much.
Dutch also feeling glum
Van Gaal’s side may be feeling similarly glum, but many did not expect them to prevail to a group consisting of Spain and Chile never mind making the final four of the tournament.
Their 5-1 thrashing of Spain was arguably the greatest game of the tournament, and that he drew the best form from Robben, Van Persie and Sneijder will no doubt have many mouths watering on Mancunian shores.
All three are now entering their twilight years in the game, but it looks like Holland’s golden generation is going to end without a golden trophy in their position.
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