Advancing at all costs has been the guiding principle behind the progress of Brazil and Netherlands to the World Cup quarterfinals, regardless of tradition or public perception. Now that they're about to meet in a match befitting a final, the discussion has turned back to style.
"We know the Netherlands are a very difficult team to play against," Brazil coach Dunga said. "Their football is actually very similar to South American football."
"They don't try to stay defending and rely on long balls," he said. "They have technical quality and we will need to be ready for that. It's a solid team."
Three World Cup meetings between the teams have ended with the winner going on to reach the final. That team this year faces either Uruguay or Ghana in the semifinals.
The Dutch have won all their matches so far, but not with the flair that has characterized the teams of previous eras. The two-time finalists have also had to overcome some friction within the squad after the 2-1 win over Slovakia in the round of 16, but coach Bert van Marwijk is confident that's all in the past now.
Five-time champion Brazil was solid in the group stage, beating North Korea and Ivory Coast before a scoreless draw with Portugal, but returned to goalscoring form in a 3-0 win over Chile in the second round.
But the Brazilians will be without Elano, who scored in each of their first two matches, for the quarterfinal. Brazil team doctor Jose Luis Runco said Elano will not play because of a right ankle injury. Runco said Elano may be fit by next week
but did not rule out the possibility that the playmaker could miss the rest of the World Cup.
"I wish I could play to help Brazil, but I know I can't," Elano said. "There are several other players who can play better than I can right now."
His absence might be more motivation for Robinho to take on extra load. Robinho has admitted that he could have done more to help his team so far at the World Cup.
Despite playing well and scoring his first World Cup goal in the win over Chile on Monday, Robinho said he is still not at
his best and wants to improve for the final stages of the tournament in South Africa.
"I'm happy for the goal," he said. "But I think I could've played better, I know I have to play better."
He remembers what it takes to get through the quarters. He was a member of the Brazilian squad that fell to France in the quarterfinals of the 2006 World Cup in Germany and is determined to go further.
But if the feistiness that followed the Slovakia match is any indication, the Dutch players seem to be climbing over themselves in their desperation to stay in the tournament.
Van Marwijk demanded unity among his players after Robin van Persie's angry outburst at being substituted. The Dutch coach called a team meeting after reports in Dutch media that the Arsenal striker said midfielder Wesley Sneijder should have been brought off instead of him.
"I will never accept anything that could upset the next match," Van Marwijk told Dutch national broadcaster NOS.
"I spoke to Robin and he is supposed to have said something about Wesley," Van Marwijk said. "I've spoken to Wesley and after that I called the team together ... told them what I think and then drew a line under it."
On Wednesday, Dutch media praised Van Marwijk's crisis management skills for preventing any rift in the team. Dutch daily newspaper De Telegraaf said in a column that van Marwijk "has swiftly prevented a potential rift in the Netherlands team and prevented a crisis en route to the quarterfinal against Brazil."
Previous Dutch campaigns have often been rocked by infighting, but the team had appeared unified in South Africa. Van Marwijk insisted he has dealt the latest dispute before it got out of hand.
"I've always said I don't mind if something happens _ that can make you stronger _ but I don't like to leave problems dangling," he said. "It's over. For everybody."
Van Persie and Sneijder have a history of tense relations dating back to a public spat over who should have taken a free kick in the 2008 European Championship quarterfinal defeat to Russia.