Johannesburg: Five-time champion Brazil now feels as though the World Cup is really beginning.
After cruising into the quarterfinals with a 3-0 win over
Chile on Monday, coach Dunga and his players know that things
start to get serious against the Netherlands on Friday.
"We know the Netherlands are a very difficult team to
play against," Dunga said. "Their football is actually very
similar to South American football. They don`t try to stay
defending and rely on long balls. They have technical quality
and we will need to be ready for that. It`s a solid team."
Brazil hasn`t faced many difficulties in South Africa so
It easily won Group G by beating North Korea 2-1, Ivory
Coast 3-1 and drawing 0-0 with Portugal. It then faced a Chile
side it has dominated in recent years. The Chileans didn`t
pose much of a threat in Monday`s match at Ellis Park, and
Brazil easily advanced.
"Now it`s a match between two traditional teams with
great players," Brazil captain Lucio said. "Now the matches
will get harder and harder."
Although the Netherlands doesn`t have many titles, it has
been an international force for years. It has been nearly
flawless in this year`s World Cup, winning all of its matches
so far -- against Denmark, Japan, Cameroon and Slovakia, the
latter a 2-1 result in the second round on Monday in Durban.
The Dutch are unbeaten in 23 matches.
"It`s a world football classic," said Robinho, who scored
his first World Cup goal in the match against Chile. "It`s
going to be like a final."
Defender Juan and striker Luis Fabiano also scored for
Brazil in Monday`s victory, the team`s eighth in a row against
the South American rival.
It will be the fourth World Cup match between the two
teams, and Brazil has won two of them. The Netherlands won a
second-round match in the 1974 tournament in Germany, but the
Brazilians beat the Dutch 3-2 in the 1994 quarterfinals in the
United States and succeeded in a penalty shootout in the 1998
semifinals in France.
"We are talking about great teams with great players,"
Brazil midfielder Kleberson said. "It`s going to be hard for
In the 2006 World Cup in Germany, it was in the
quarterfinals that Brazil fell 1-0 to eventual runner-up
Dunga knows from experience the difficulties of facing
the Dutch. The former defensive midfielder played in the 1994
quarterfinals and in the 1998 semifinals.
"We know the Netherlands has a tradition of playing well
in the World Cup," the coach said.
The Brazilians are hoping the Dutch continue to attack in
the match at Port Elizabeth, allowing space for Brazil`s
"I hope they keep playing forward," Luis Fabiano said.
"If they do that, they will run some risks and that`s going to
be good for us."
Brazil may be without some regular starters for Friday`s
match. Midfielder Elano and Felipe Melo failed to recover from
ankle injuries in time to face the Chileans and remain
Elano left practice early on Tuesday after apparently
feeling pain in his right ankle. He was undergoing a light
training session with the rest of the players but had to cut
it short after consulting with team doctors.
Felipe Melo didn`t even practice, and reserve midfielder
Julio Baptista also was absent to nurse a left knee injury.
Ramires, who replaced Felipe Melo on Monday, received his
second yellow card and will not be available.