July 12, 2014 in Sports

Netherlands, Brazil find importance in third-place game

Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Netherlands’ Arjen Robben, at practice on Friday, is on the 10-player list of candidates to be named the World Cup’s best player.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Dutch coach Louis Van Gaal is trying to motivate his players for the third-place match against Brazil by giving them the mission of becoming the only Dutch squad to finish a World Cup unbeaten in regular play.

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is just hoping Brazil can finish on a high note in front of the home fans in Brasilia following the devastating 7-1 loss to Germany.

After being eliminated by Argentina on penalties, the Netherlands has the chance of ending the tournament without a loss in seven matches. The Dutch won its first four games, then drew Costa Rica 0-0 in the quarters and Argentina 0-0 in the semis.

Van Gaal had been saying the third-place game was pointless and that he would rather not play it, but on Friday he changed the tone a bit, saying that going out without a loss would be a good reason to stay motivated.

“We are realizing that there is something else we need to defend and we have to go for it,” Van Gaal said through a translator. “Never a Dutch team returned home unbeaten, and that has to be the next target.”

Scolari said the third-place match will be important to give Brazilian fans some reason to celebrate in the team’s final World Cup appearance at home.

“We already know that we can’t reach our main goal anymore,” the coach said. “But we still have the third-place game and we want to win so we can give at least some happiness to the Brazilian people.”

Scolari said he is expecting to make two or three changes to the lineup that played against Germany, but didn’t give any hints. In a training session earlier Friday, he used a lineup without striker Fred, who has struggled throughout the World Cup.

Brazil captain Thiago Silva, who didn’t play against Germany because of a yellow card suspension, was in the team that lost to the Netherlands in the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

“I couldn’t be more motivated,” Silva said. “It’s a different objective, but we will be playing for our honor and our dignity. When you wear the Brazilian jersey you have to respect it and you always have to play motivated. We have to move on.”

It is the second time the Netherlands is playing in the third-place match at a World Cup. It fell to Croatia 2-1 in 1998 after being beaten by Brazil in the semis.

“Losing hurts a lot, the pain doesn’t go away so fast, but it’s part of sports,” midfielder Dirk Kuyt said. “There’s always the next match. We want to win here and return unbeaten. It will be easier to get on the plane with a good feeling. It would be wonderful to close this World Cup by winning. We are still not satisfied, but third place gives you a much better feeling than fourth place.”

Van Gaal recalled that even the great teams of 1974 and 1978 were not able to finish the World Cup without losses. The 1978 squad had two losses in the tournament in Argentina.

Rizzoli to referee final

Nicola Rizzoli of Italy will referee the World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro between Germany and Argentina, according to FIFA officials.

With a European and South American team playing, many had expected FIFA to appoint an Asian referee for Sunday’s game. Jim Boyce, the chairman of the FIFA’s refereeing committee, said Rizzoli would get the duty.

“We choose the best referees for the best matches, and the Italian will referee the final,” Boyce said.

More than 25,000 soldiers and police, the biggest security detail in Brazil’s history, will be deployed around the city on Sunday.

Jose Mariano Beltrane, security secretary for the state of Rio de Janeiro, said the contingent will be the largest in Brazil’s history with 9,300 Brazilian defense forces and at least 10,000 military police.

Beltrane said, “We need to ensure that this event goes off like all the other games in the World Cup.”

Messi, Neymar on best player list

FIFA has included Lionel Messi and Neymar on a 10-player list of candidates to be named the World Cup’s best player.

Seven of the 10 nominees for the Golden Ball come from finalists Argentina and Germany.

Messi is nominated along with Argentina teammates Angel Di Maria and Javier Mascherano. Germany provides four candidates: Mats Hummels, Toni Kroos, Philipp Lahm and Thomas Mueller.

Neymar is the only candidate from Brazil on the list selected by FIFA’s technical study group of coaching analysts.

Arjen Robben of the Netherlands and James Rodriquez of Colombia, the tournament’s top scorer with six goals, complete the list.

The winner is selected by the FIFA technical group and announced after the final.

Argentina coach may step down

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella might step down after Sunday’s final.

Sabella’s spokesman, Eugenio Lopez, told Buenos Aires radio La Red that “I think he will end after the World Cup, complete the cycle and leave for another project.”

Sabella has coached Argentina since 2011.

Lopez suggested that Sabella would have been more likely to stick around had Argentina been eliminated in the second round or the quarterfinals.

Lopez said, “It’s better to leave while you’re up, rather than when you’re down.”

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