So much for the new Brazil. It’s not that this not-so-special team lost to Holland, 2-1, giving up two goals that your average MLS team would feel ashamed about. It’s that Brazil committed an even worse sin. Brazil was boring. How sad is it that toward the end of the game that Brazil was reduced to sending long balls toward the box to try an unlock a Dutch defense that has looked vulnerable to any team willing to attack it. Brazil saw this in the 10th minute when Felipe Melo beat the entire Dutch defense with one pass, allowing Robinho to sweep in from the left, collect the ball and slide it past Maarten Stekenlenburg. From then on we were treated to a Brazil that, under the orders of its pugnacious runt of a coach, Dunga, played like a second-rate Italian team desperate to strangle the life out of the game, lest it become entertaining. Sit back. Let the Dutch come. Look for the break. Do anything but be Brazil.
And here’s what they got for it. Melo deflected the ball past his own keeper in the 53rd minute after Wesley Sneijder, without a defender near him, took a pass from a free kick and floated one into the box. Brazilian keeper Julio César missed it completely. The entire Brazil team missed the rest of the second half, falling apart. The samba beat was missing, as was Kaka, their so-called attacking midfielder and Luis Fabiano their center forward. Instead, we got to see Holland win the game from a corner kick, the goal coming from one of its smallest players. Arjen Robben’s short corner was nodded on by Dirk Kuyt, who was being covered by the 6-foot-2 inch Lucio; that pass made its way to the 5-foot-7 inch Sneijder, who normally needs a special invitation just to be in the box. Melo then capped his disastrous second half by getting dismissed in the 73rd minute for stomping on Robben. Nice work.
You’d like to think that the old Brazil, even down a man, would not have panicked like this one did. That Brazil would have decided to hang onto the ball for the rest of the game until it had scored enough goals to win. But playing with holding midfielders, instead of creative ones— Brazilians— leaves you with a problem. Especially when you are facing a Dutch team that has its own ideas about possession.
That’s not to say Holland didn’t deserve the win. They were more than happy to attack, even if Brazil had Robben figured out and Robin Van Persie wasn’t much of a factor. And nobody outworks them. That alone will make them tough to be beat going forward.