Tuesday, June 29, 2010

World Cup Quarterfinal 1: Netherlands v. Brazil

And then there were eight.

The quarter-finals offer up some mouth-watering matches worthy of the final. Argentina-Germany looks like it will be a corker, and Netherlands-Brazil is huge match-up, if not as exciting. Either game reads like a great final.

Less monumental will be Uruguay-Ghana but it should be fun; one of those two will be insanely happy to go through and both teams have been fun to watch. As a relative neutral, I'm cheering for both.

And then there's Spain v. Paraguay... Yah, it will be interesting tactically but no one is getting too excited about this one. Hopefully Spain score early and force Paraguay to attack with intent.

Games 1 and 2 are this Friday, July 2nd, at 7am and 11:30am.

Quarterfinal Game 1 - Netherlands v. Brazil

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this will be a boring game. Brazil has produced only a handful of flashes of brilliance one expects from Brazilian teams, and against Chile only after they were a goal up. The Netherlands haven't hit top gear yet, and other than a few moments of brilliance (Robben's goal, for instance), have looked a bit disjointed.

This will likely be a midfield battle: Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong will face Felipe Melo and Gilberto Silva, each pair looking to release their highly talented attacking players or to spread the ball outside to attacking fullbacks. Maicon and Bastos for Brazil and van Bronckhorst and van der Wiel for the Dutch will all play significant roles, as both teams will look to push them forward and overwhelm their opponents.

Both teams play a variation on a 4-3-3, both with two holding midfielders, though both Melo and van Bommel have the ability to create as well. Melo will play in the place of the impressive Ramires, who picked up a second yellow against Chile.

Luis Fabiano and Robin van Persie play similar roles at the front, both quite mobile, extremely deft, but sometimes ineffective if starved of service. Robinho and Robben, other than sharing a name, are similar as well: creative, skilled with the ball, and eager to run at defenders.

Kaka and Sneijder play in the same position but have such different styles: Kaka smooth, fast yet languid at times, Sneijder quick, combative and technical. Both are under-performing. Yes, Sneijder has scored twice and passed beautifully to set up Robben's goal. But both his goals were fortunate, and he hasn't linked up well with the Dutch attackers, his primary role. Kaka passed well for Fabiano's goal against Chile but other than that has been frustrating.

On the balance, Brazil are a better team, especially at the back. They won't give the Dutch many chances, and they'll put pressure on the weaker Dutch backline. Expect that pressure to produce a goal or two.

2-0 to Brazil.


DougD. said...

At the risk of going against your logic...2-1 Netherlands.

Brenton said...

Well done, sir. Seems my logic was unsound. Actually, I still believe I was right, that Brazil should have won based on their personnel and recent history. Their downfall was their inability to shift gears after they were scored on, which comes down to a coaching fault.