The pass from Melo that cut through the heart of Dutch defence and the execution by Robinho, would have killed a lesser team. It was accomplished with such precision and ease that the whole of Holland must have feared the worst: if Brazil can do this once, then they can do it again.
Their confidence could have crumbled, but it didn’t — they stayed strong, retained their belief and stuck to their game plan. In every game there are turning points, key moments that shift the momentum one way or another. Ten minutes into second-half, Brazil conceded an equaliser. The chaos in the Brazil defence that allowed the goal perhaps had as much of an effect as the goal itself.
’Keeper Julio Cesar flapped at the ball, Melo collided with him and the ball drifted off his head into the net. The Brazilian defence and the goalkeeper crumbled, fell apart, disintegrated. Holland grew in confidence. They started to control the game, and fifteen minutes later Sneijder glided through the Brazil back-line to glance a header past the static Cesar. One goal behind, with twenty minutes left, Brazil had the attacking flair to rescue the game, but their belief, that confidence and expectation of victory, began to ebb away.
Robben tortured Brazil with his running with the ball, he invited fouls, and frustration finally got the better of Melo when he trampled on the prone Robben and got a red card. At this point, the game was won and lost – there was no coming back. Holland had a gameplan, when things went wrong early on, they stuck to it. They stayed in control, disciplined, and patient.
When things went wrong for Brazil they couldn’t adjust, they fell apart mentally. Holland now go into the semi-final with Uruguay as overwhelming favourites, however the biggest danger is complacency and over-confidence. Uruguay’s match with Ghana was absorbing. Uruguay committed players forward, Ghana counter-attacked with power, pace and precision.
They could have done little more than they did to win the game. Luis Suarez, whose handball gave Uruguay a little chance, which they utilised well, will miss the semi-final.