In the 1994 World Cup, Brazil eliminated Holland 3-2 in the quarterfinals, courtesy a free-kick by Branco. In the 1998 World Cup, Brazil eliminated us again, this time in the semifinal penalty shootout after Ronaldo and Kluivert had tied the game 1-1.
There is no team like Brazil, that we Dutch admire, and which has caused us so much pain. Fate has put us together one more time, and coach Bert van Marwijk and his assistant De Boer must prepare a game plan to get a different result.
Holland have won 12 straight games with a careful 4-2-3-1 formation. The advantage of this formation is that the holding midfielders become extra defenders and re-launch the forward line. Against strikers of the calibre of Robinho, Kaka and Luis Fabiano, Holland need this extra line of defence.
Coach Dunga has the best defence with Bastos, Juan, Lucio and Maicon. In midfield, there is Gilberto Silva, Felipe Melo and Dani Alvez. Kaka, Luis Fabiano and Robinho supply the goals, but so can Maicon, Juan and the injured Elano. The wingers could be the key, as both Maicon and Bastos love to make runs and cross into the centre. Holland must catch them out of position. Also, if Robben and Sneijder have exceptional games we could win this one.
Ghana and Uruguay have proved to be the two Cinderella stories of this World Cup. Coach Rajevac inherited an Essien-less team and inspired them to the quarterfinal with a good mix of the U-20 world champions and Rennes striker, Asamoah Gyan, and midfielders Appiah, Anan and Prince Boateng.
Coach Oscar Tabarez limped into the World Cup and transformed his team with the dynamic strike force of young Luis Suarez of Ajax, Diego Forlan and Edison Cavani. Using a 4-4-3 offensive formation, Uruguay has the talented captain Lugano leading the defence with Fucile, Victorino and Pereira.
Suarez scored 49 goals in 49 games this year. No one else has that average. Ghana will have to find a defence that can stop them. It is not exactly watertight.
Chivach Sports/Hawkeye Communications