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World Cup: Third Place Match

We have now reached the end of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil, sort of.  We are at the Third Place Match, between the Netherlands and our hosts, Brazil.  We have two teams that arrived to this in two completely different ways.

Brazil-  The hosts began group play with a very uneven performance in their 3-1 victory over Croatia.  They then met a wall in Mexican goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa, in 0-0 draw.  They ended group play with a fairly easy 4-1 win over Cameroon.  In the round of 16, Brazil drew with Chile 1-1 through not only 90 minutes of regulation, but also 30 minutes of extra time. In the end, Brazil won 3-2 in penalty kick shootouts.  In the quarterfinals, the Brazilians seemed to easily defeat Colombia 2-1.  They, however, lost Neymar with a fractured vertebrae after he took a knee to his lower back.  Captain and top defender, Tiago Silva, also earned his second yellow card, suspending him for the semifinal match against Germany.  Without the offensive creativity of Neymar or the tactical organization of Silva, the Brazilians were in disarray as they gave up five goals in the first 25 minutes of the match on their way to being destroyed by Germany, 7-1.

Netherlands-  The Dutch got their World Cup with a major bang, defeating– and avenging their 2010 World Cup final loss to– Spain 5-1.  In their second match, they met a very game Australian squad and escaped with a 3-2 victory.  Holland then closed out group play by shutting out Chile 2-0.  The Netherlands entered the round of 16 against a tough, determined Mexican selection.  Mexico led 1-0 entering the 88th minute when Wesley Sneijder tied up the match.  Then, as the game entered stoppage time, Rafa Marquez was called for a penalty on Arjen Robben.  Netherlands won the match 2-1, after Klaas Jan Huntelaar scored the winning goal on they penalty kick.  The Dutch then went completely scoreless versus Costa Rica for 120 minutes.  For the first time in their World Cup history, Holland won a match that went into extra time or beyond; winning the penalty kick shootout 4-3.  In the semifinals, the Dutch again failed to score for 120 minutes against Argentina– drawing 0-0.  Argentina made all four attempts they were required to take, while Netherlands missed two of the first four.  Holland lost 4-2 to Argentina, failing in yet another bid for their first World Cup title.

Prediction-  The Brazilians have Tiago Silva back on the back line and with captain’s band on.  This allows David Luiz to go back to the best position for him and the team.  They are, however, still missing a big part of their offense in Neymar.  The Dutch, bring their full scoring punch and face a weaker defense than Costa Rica or Argentina had– even with Silva present in the back line.  I believe that the Netherlands will get their scoring touch back and avoid extra time altogether against the Brazilians.  Final score: Netherlands 2, Brazil 1.

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