Daily Cup Check: Day 29
Sam Fels is away, but Austin Fido sat through another 90 minutes of Brazilian distress and here is what he thought about it…
Brazil 0 – Netherlands 3
Turns out Brazil hadn’t quite hit bottom when Germany delivered the thrashing no one really saw coming in the semifinal (You saw them shipping SEVEN goals? Truthfully?). The third-place playoff may be a match no one wants to play, but it’s a chance to bounce back and give a better account of yourself than whatever caused you to not be in the final.
Brazil wasn’t too interested in proving anyone wrong. Mostly, this game proved everyone right. Think this team coasted through the early games with a little too much referee protection? Seems plausible. The home team’s last game was also the first in which the veil of official protection wasn’t just lifted, but cast over their opponents.
Arjen Robben won a penalty that shouldn’t have been (he was outside the box), and Brazil was a goal down inside two minutes of play. Thiago Silva should have been sent off – he was the only guy preventing Robben from going one-on-one with the ‘keeper – but no one was going to be allowed to go home early from this fiasco.
Silva had to tough it out with the rest of the guys in yellow and watch what a mess they had all made of their country’s reputation. So he got to see David Luiz’s weak clearance get volleyed back past the defense by Daley Blind. And he got to see Wijnaldum tap in a cross at the end to make sure no one looked at the score and thought Germany just caught Brazil at a bad time.
Now we have some certainty: most of the time is a bad time if you’re talking about visiting this Brazilian defense with expectation of meeting actual, competent defending. How did Mexico not score a goal against this shambles? How did no one else but Germany and the Netherlands manage to score more than one?
If the penalty that shouldn’t have been, and the fact Daley Blind (three goals in 99 appearances for Ajax) was on the score sheet, didn’t spell it out for Brazil, Oscar getting a card for diving after he fell over Blind’s leg surely made it clear: this wasn’t their day. They were getting penalties for much less than that when this tournament started.
Louis van Gaal, ever the completist, subbed in Michel Vorm for Jasper Cillesen, because he apparently can’t win a game these days without swapping the ‘keeper out, and because there’s really no better way to express your utter disdain for a match and your opponent than bringing in the third-choice ‘keeper in for no reason other than you can.
The Dutch get the satisfaction of completing the set of near-miss finishes at World Cups: they now have a third-place to add to the fourth they picked up in ’98 and the runners-up medals they collect like Brazil generates synonyms for “disgrace”.
Van Gaal finally gets to go to Manchester, presumably to shout at someone about the need to pay whatever is necessary to extract Ron Vlaar from Aston Villa’s inept, near-insolvent grasp. Luiz and Silva head off to Paris, knowing the headlines are already written for the first goal PSG concedes in a big game this year.
Brazil will be back, because they’re never down for long, but it will take something major – like winning it all in Russia – to make the memory of the last week of humiliation on home soil go away.
Surprisingly Astute Analysis of The Day
Stan Collymore isn’t a man who has invested a great deal of time in appearing to have good judgement, but he had a moment of clarity today:
Player Of The Day: Daley Blind
Even when he put a foot wrong, it worked out OK (match-ending injury notwithstanding).