Vuvuzela Rating: 7.5 – an impressive gathering of rusty food blenders.
Oh good, it’s the Netherlands versus Brazil. A football-fest that will make many people with cataract problems go completely blind. Two teams – one of which is undoubtably the greatest and most successful nation to play the game, and the other is arguably one of the biggest underachievers considering the talent they have provided the beautiful game. Brazil have won it 5 times, the Dutch have never lifted it – merely watching the opposition do it during consecutive finals during the 70’s.
Having spent two full days twiddling our thumbs, not knowing what to do as football left our screens as we naturally assumed it was always there, finally it returned with a match that would be fit to serve any World Cup Final, let alone a quarter final. Peter Drury told us to expect fireworks. We were disappointed, as all there was was football and no Catherine Wheels. And Andre Ooijer starting for the Netherlands. Flair personified.
And yet, after Robinho opened the scoring after ten minutes, from the most basic of goals – a straightforward through ball in theory, yet placed to absolute perfection, which the Dutch defence insisted on leaving – from the most famous ‘flair’ playing nation in the world, we all wondered if that was that. Should we all just change the channel now and get ready to cheer on Andy Murray?
After half an hour Brazil were clearly the best side. The Dutch did their best to give Brazil the initative – a case in point from a Dutch corner when Arjen Robben cheekily touched the ball and then appeared to leave it for another player to take…of course, none of the millions watching, or Daniel Alves, the nearest Brazilian player fell for it. Robben was made to look a right plonker.
But come the second half, the Brazilian’s took up the mantle of insisting on letting the other team score. An inocuous cross from Wesley Sneijder resulted in Julio Cesar and Felipe Melo auditioning for something out of Chucklevision the Musical – flapping at a cross and the defender just nodding it on into the empty net…that’s just a mere hiccup though right? Wrong. Holland decided they hadn’t read the script that the BBC and ITV presumably had by insisting Brazil were already in the final when Sneijder headed home with just over twenty minutes remaining. Evidently the Brazilian defence had one eye on the Murray Nadal match on the other side…
In all seriousness, the Dutch came out in the second half all guns blazing and stunned the Brazilians into submission…although the Brazilians did their best to submit the Dutch through sheer lack of discipline – Melo received a deserved red card – the 205th of his career.
As the match drew to a close, the Brazilians piled forward, and on several occasions the Dutch could have killed the game off completely. Rather lacking the emphatic counter-attacking skill which the Germans showed against England, they didn’t pay the price and saw out a 2-1 victory at the final whistle.
There won’t be any semi-final for little Kaka. No Copacabana celebration for young Robinho. No samba rhthym for old man Lucio. Instead, a glittering Dutch team are storming into the semi-finals, and are instant odds-on favourites against whoever comes out on top of Uruguay or Ghana. We can all feel sorry for Brazil not being there at the end of the competition like they often are…and then realise they’re hosting it in four years time, and probably already odds-on to win it. Good, about time they failed…said the bitter English fan.
Match Statistics (Powered by Optajoke)
99,907 – Number of people who tuned into ITV’s coverage of Netherlands v Brazil early assuming David Dickinson is a Dutch fan. Perma-tan.
62 – During the first ten minutes of the match, Peter Drury told us to expect ‘flair’ football 62 times. Curse.
4,332 – Arjen Robben has cut inside from the right 4,332 times during his career. Predictable.