2014 FIFA World Cup: Third-Place Match Recap

The third-place match of the World Cup is just pointless. There’s no reason to sort out who’s third- or fourth-best in the tournament, and with hosts Brazil playing in the consolation game it was only going to be embarrassing. There would have been no redemption in winning, and losing would augment their already tremendous shame. 

So Brazil went ahead and made all the same mistakes that got them where they are. They obviously weren’t interested in anything but a championship—who could blame them?—so they treated their match against the Netherlands as they would a pick-up game; they didn’t play defence, they committed sloppy, lazy fouls, they made inexplicable passes to deserted areas of the field, they created few chances and missed on the opportunities they had. They played like they didn’t care.

The Dutch, on the other hand, cared very much. They didn’t come into the tournament as heavy favourites the way Brazil did, so maybe they felt they were already playing above expectations, but they showed a ton of pride in their play and the final score reflected it.

Brazil fans must have had flashbacks to the “nightmare at Belo Horizonte,” when they were casually dismantled by a clinical German squad, as the Netherlands opened the scoring less than three minutes in to the game. Arjen Robben—who else?—drew a penalty kick after being fouled on the edge of the penalty area by Brazilian captain Thiago Silva, then Robin Van Persie slotted his shot into the top-right corner for the opening goal. Robben will surely never again be the victim of a clear, no-doubt-about-it foul after earning a reputation for leaving his feet easier than any other player, but this foul was very much deserved. The controversy was with the official’s spotting of the foul, which happened just outside the box and really should have been a free kick.

The second Dutch goal was also iffy, as Canadian-born Dutch player Jonathan de Guzman was just a hair offside in receiving a pass from Robben. De Guzman crossed it into the Brazilian box, but David Luiz cleared to a wide-open Daley Blind. Blind had enough time to settle the ball, take a nap, wave to his dad on the sidelines and still score his first international goal as the entire defensive line froze in their tracks.

Questionable goals aside, there was no doubt the third Dutch goal, just after the 90-minute mark, was good. Georginio Wijnaldum was left completely unmarked in the Brazilian penalty area, giving Daryl Janmaat a mile-wide seam through which to make a pass. Wijnaldum made no mistake, catching keeper Julio Cesar leaning to his right and shooting it to his left.

Not that anyone will remember the game, but the Netherlands will take some comfort in having dispatched Brazil so convincingly, while Brazil’s team will likely have to go into hiding for a time. For a team expecting such great things, Brazil did nothing in the final two games to deserve anything but the boos that rained down on them as they left the field.

From a meaningless game to the most meaningful game, tomorrow Argentina and Germany will face each other in a rematch of the 1986 and 1990 finals. In ’86 the Argentine team won 3-2, while Germany had their revenge with a 1-0 win in 1990. 

Drew Berner

Drew Berner is a freelance writer born and raised in Toronto and specializing in entertainment, sports and politics. He occasionally collects vinyl records, enjoys hate-watching the Blue Jays, appreciates good beer and great scotch, and goes to sleep each night with 120 lbs. of Great Dane draped over him (it’s a lot more comfortable than it sounds). Follow him on Twitter @DrewBerner for photos of huge dogs, observational humour and assorted sports rage.

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