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Sparkling Brazil undaunted by flying Dutchmen
By Martin Petty
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 02 - 07 - 2010

The impressive Dutch march through the World Cup Finals might hit a brick wall Friday when they meet a Brazil side in startling form and looking everything like becoming champion for a sixth time.
Netherlands has its sights set on lifting the trophy itself but coach Bert van Marwijk faces a tactical dilemma for a quarterfinal in Port Elizabeth against a team that has mercilessly punished its opponents, whatever its approach.
With three forwards, Chile boldly attacked the Samba Boys in their second round encounter but lost 3-0 after being torn to shreds by a side that looked close to flawless in all areas of the pitch.
Likewise, putting up the shutters in defense does not seem to work much either, with the likes of the brilliant Kaka, Robinho and Luis Fabiano relentlessly chipping away.
Coach Dunga, who was captain when Brazil beat Netherlands in the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, said its opponent was technically strong and his team had to be prepared.
However, accommodation arrangements and an unfamiliar training venue seemed to be more of a concern to Dunga than the threat of Brazil's in-form and confident opponents.
“It interferes with things,” he said.
“We will have to share a hotel with more people, there will be more confusion, and we will have to overcome this situation. Now, we are going to move to another reality,” he said.
Elano will be missing Friday with a bruised ankle sustained during Brazil's game with Ivory Coast and Dani Alvez will likely fill the void, as he did against Chile.
Felipe Melo has an ankle injury and his replacement Ramires is suspended for two yellow cards, meaning Josue will likely get a start against the Dutch.
Netherlands has won all four of its matches and Arjen Robben's early goal on his return from injury in its 2-1 win over Slovakia has given the team a major lift.
It has endured criticism about dull play but winger Ryan Babel insisted the Dutch had so far faced opponents who had used negative tactics and Brazil's attacking flair would bring the best out of them.
“We play our better games against teams that want to play football as well and Friday, Brazil is not going to wait,” he said.
Van Marwijk believes his team can go all the way having been in control in their group matches. He will be expecting something entirely different against Brazil, however.
“Perhaps we might be the underdogs for the first time in South Africa. We are confident but the Brazilians also convey this confidence. It's almost like they're invincible,” he said.
“But we're here for one reason, to get the big prize. We have to believe in it,” he said.
However, strong Brazil is, Pele's 1970 beaters haunt the team.
The Pele-inspired side played some of the best football the Finals have seen on their way to Brazil's third world title, culminating in an irresistible 4-1 win over Italy in the final.
But the fallout has hit coach Mario Zagallo successors. Since then, Brazil has been expected not just to win the World Cup but to do it in style, an often exasperating situation.
Even now, when improved physical preparation and tactics make it almost impossible to repeat the 1970 way of playing, the debate rages on.
Dunga, the latest incumbent, views the whole discussion as a European plot to stop Brazil claiming a sixth world title.
Dunga is feeling the effects of Brazilian football's identity crisis first-hand.
In just under four years in charge, his team has won the Copa America and Confederations Cup as well as finishing top of the South American World Cup qualifying tournament. It has won 41 out of 58 matches and lost only five.
None of that, however, has been good enough to save him from some savage criticism about his team's pragmatic but ruthlessly efficient style.
“If we take the current Brazilian team and just show the best bits, fans will think it's a spectacular team.
“But today, they show as many negative moments as good ones.”


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