BRAZIL PLAY the Netherlands today in a match neither side wants after their World Cup semifinal defeats.
The match for third place is never very popular, and Saturday’s affair in Brasilia is going to be small consolation for hosts Brazil who are still rocking from Tuesday’s 7-1 thrashing by Germany.
Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has an almost impossible job in trying to lift his side following their semifinal humiliation.
Another defeat will make matters even worse, while a win will hardly rid the country of the pain of Belo Horizonte Scolari’s future as national team coach will be decided after the tournament, and the Brasilia match could well be the last for the man who led Brazil to their 2002 title in the South Korea/Japan tournament.
“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,” he said.
“I know it’s a much smaller dream than we all wanted but we have to honour the shirt of the national team.”
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal is in no mood for the match either after his side went out in the penalty shoot-out to Argentina in Sao Paulo on Wednesday.
“This match should never be played. I’ve been saying that for 10 years; it’s unfair,” Van Gaal said.
“There is only one award that counts and that is becoming world champions.” The third-place play-off was introduced at the second World Cup finals in Italy in 1934 but has never been popular with the teams.
Van Gaal added: “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. This has got nothing to do whatsoever with sport, not in my view.”
Both coaches could reshuffle to rest some tired players and give squad members a chance to show what they can do.
Theoretically the match is an opportunity for Brazil to avenge a 2-1 quarterfinal defeat to the Dutch at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but the shock of Tuesday’s collapse against Germany in the Estadio Mineirao is still reverberating to make everything else almost irrelevant.