NETHERLANDS vs BRAZIL, Port Elizabeth, 02/07/10
Enjoying the World Cup, are you? Maybe not if you’re a fan of England (or France, or Italy…), but, after a bit of a lacklustre start, South Africa 2010 is turning into something of a football feast. And Friday’s WC quarter final / UFWC title match looks set to be one of the highlights of the tournament.
Few tipsters were heard to name the Netherlands as potential winners before the World Cup began, but regular followers of the UFWC will not have been surprised to have seen the Dutch continue their incredible unbeaten run (23 games) and win all four WC matches. Built around a solid defence, the Dutch side also has the attacking guile to harm any opposition. Ranked fourth in the world by both the UFWC and FIFA, the Netherlands, some say Holland, are an impressive side.
The Netherland’s brilliant orange shirts have always illuminated football, and against Slovakia on Monday they put out a team that lined up wearing shirts numbered one to eleven – a fantastic footballing sight that harked back to the nation’s heady days of the 70s. (Read what happened when the Netherlands met Brazil at the 74 World Cup here.) It remains to be seen whether the Netherlands and Brazil will play in orange and yellow, with the likelihood being that a clash of colours will force a change. A shame.
Amazingly, Brazil haven’t been involved in the UFWC competition since 1998 – and their last victory was against the Netherlands. That was in the World Cup semi final, when the Brazilians beat the Dutch on penalties after a 1-1 draw. But the tournament ended in agony for Brazil – hosts France won the final 3-0 to take both the World Cup and the UFWC title.
The Brazilians are currently on a ten-match unbeaten run, and are ranked number one by FIFA (and sixth by the UFWC). They won their first two group games, then drew 0-0 with Portugal, before seeing off Chile 3-0 in the round of 16. They’ve not yet settled into the samba style that has delighted in previous tournaments, but they seem to be improving with each game, and may go into this one as slight favourites.
There are plenty of star players to keep your eyes on, including Robben, Van Persie and Sneijder for the Dutch and Kaka, Robinho and Fabiano for the Brazilians. The Netherlands and Brazil have scored seven and eight goals respectively during this WC, and have both conceded two. It’s going to be tight, but one thing is for sure – this is going to be one of the most fascinating and hotly-anticipated UFWC matches in recent history.
The winners will play Uruguay or Ghana in the semi final, and must fancy their chances of reaching the final. So get the beer and snacks in and plump up the cushions for Netherlands vs Brazil – a huge UFWC/WC clash that I, for one, am not going to attempt to predict the outcome of. Enjoy.
Why not watch the game in an official UFWC T-shirt – including exclusive Netherlands and Hughie the mascot shirts? Check out the UFWC T-shirt store.