The third place match marks the beginning of the end of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Hosts Brazil will face the Netherlands on Saturday as they battle for a consolation prize. Even though neither side has anything to play for, there are still some significant questions to be asked about both teams.
Here are four keys to the match on Day 24…
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What can Brazilian fans look forward to?
Brazil’s 7-1 loss to Germany will be etched in the minds of Brazilians forever. No one can whittle down the problems the Selecao had in that match, but it appears as if the future of the national team is being examined following the embarrassing elimination.
Third place matches usually involve a lot of fringe players that didn’t get a lot of playing time earlier in the tournament. Surely manager Luiz Felipe Scolari will start a few of his reserves. However, with Scolari most likely resigning following this debacle, some are asking where the creative players that Brazil are known for have gone.
Apart from Oscar and Neymar, no one else in the usual starting lineup can be defined as a “creative player.” Willian and Bernard can be thrown into that category, but gone are the days of the Jogo Bonito.
The fans will get a glimpse of some younger players, but whether or not they’ll be the blueprints for future success remains to be seen.
Give the fans some entertainment
The best part about the third place match is that all caution is disregarded and the teams usually attack without paying attention to their responsibilities.
Considering how poorly the semifinal went for Brazil, the least they can give their fans is a performance that is easy on the eye. The same can be said of the Netherlands, but it’s especially important for the hosts to show their fans that they care.
Start the Eredivisie players
The Dutch have benefitted from Eredivisie players for generations. Much like every crop that represents the national team, this one has a bright future. In fact, at one point in the Argentina match, six domestic league talents were on the pitch.
Jordy Classie is considered to be the next best midfielder for the Netherlands. He featured late in the match versus Argentina. Memphis Depay was a regular at the beginning of the World Cup, but ended up filling in as a substitute in the semifinal.
In total, there are 10 Eredivisie players in the 23-man squad. The average age of those 10 is just over 22 years, so they’re the future, which means they should be given time to show fans the impact they could make in 2018 and beyond.
The big name players have to show up
Robin Van Persie, Wesley Sneijder, and Arjen Robben underwhelmed in the semifinal against Argentina. They’ll be disappointed that they weren’t able to deliver in the biggest match for the Netherlands since the 2010 World Cup final.
Obviously it may be tough to start all three if manager Louis Van Gaal wants to give minutes to the young Eredivisie stars, but if possible, he should let Sneijder play, especially after his miss in the penalty shootout that eventually led to their elimination.
Starting Van Persie wouldn’t be a bad idea either; he wasn’t able to score in the knockout stage, and it would be motivating for the youngsters to play with the captain of the national team. Robben, on the other hand, deserves a rest considering the last few years of nonstop soccer he’s played.
No matter what happens, the Dutch should be proud of how far they made it in the tournament. Their veterans may have disappointed, but the younger players will fill in and should be able to build on what their predecessors did before them.