Netherlands – Brazil: Visitors dominate depleted hosts and win deservedly
De Kuip in Rotterdam had five weeks earlier been the venue in which the Netherlands had secured their passage through to next year’s World Cup. Now the Dutch would come back to the same stadium to take on the mighty Brazil in their first friendly since. With the match taking place right before Christmas, and in conditions probably best described as ‘blustry’, it would prove difficult to lure enough people to the ground, with a disappointing turn-out of more than 20 000 shy of capacity. One would’ve thought that possibly the biggest name in world football would’ve been able to attract a bigger crowd. However, the fact that the Dutch would be without some of their biggest players might also have brought its repercussions.
Netherlands team news
Manager Libregts would not be able to call upon his strongest eleven for the visit of Brazil. The most notable players in the list of absentees were the AC Milan trio of Rijkaard, Gullit and van Basten. The Serie A giants had three days earlier won the Intercontinental Cup by beating Atlético Nacional from Colombia 1-0 on neutral soil in Tokyo, and this appears to be the reason why there was no Rijkaard or van Basten. In addition to fatigue, the latter of the two had caught a cold. There were also problems for the Dutch FA to make the duo eligible, as AC Milan had not been best pleased for them to play an international friendly at this point. As for Gullit, he was out with his troublesome knee injury. He would finish the 1989/90 Serie A season with only two league matches (no goals) to his name.
In addition to the three aforementioned, the Netherlands were also without midfielders Vanenburg (injured knee) and E Koeman, as well as attacking midfielder Bosman. These were six major absentees from the squad, which deservedly would be fitted with a ‘depleted’ tag. Two further players in Mechelen defensive duo Hofkens and Rutjes were also not present. The reason why there were no Mechelen players in this Dutch squad was that they had a cup match against Lokeren on the same day, and the quartet were not released to play for their country. The 1988 European Cup Winners’ Cup winners would even lose 3-1 that night, with Koeman getting their solitary goal.
To compensate for the lack of key players and regular squad members, Libregts had drafted in a number of newcomers. There were still familiar faces such as van Breukelen, van Tiggelen, van Aerle, R Koeman, Wouters and Kieft, but around them were no less than three starting debutants. They were right-sided wing-back Sturing and right-sided attacking midfielder Latuheru, both from an exciting Vitesse outfit, as well as left-sided attacking midfielder Berghuis of Volendam. The latter had been drafted in late after Frans van Rooij, another possible debutant, from Royal Antwerp had to pull out from the initial squad with injury. In addition, there was only a fourth cap for players such as Reekers and Ellerman.
On the bench sat a further possible Dutch debutant in yet another Vitesse player: young central midfielder Laamers. Against a mighty opponent, this surely did not bode too well.
Brazil team news
This was Brazil’s third friendly since completing their World Cup qualification back in early September. Their last appearance on European soil had brought that strong 1-0 win in Italy, sweet revenge, yet in a match, prestige apart, of little importance, for the bitter 3-2 defeat in the ’82 World Cup. Inbetween, they had played out a dour 0-0 draw with a fancied Yugoslavian side at home. This was the Brazilians’ final of a marathonic 23 official internationals during 1989, a year which had brought them a long awaited Copa América trophy. Manager Lazaroni had emphasized the importance of a solid defensive, and so they excelled in their number of clean sheets rather than through attacking exuberance. However, they had some wonderfully talented players in virtually every position, and given the opportunity, they surely had it in them to tear an opponent apart.
The manager had the luxury of being able to call upon most of his European based stars, and only two players in their starting eleven were based in the domestic league: goalkeeper Taffarel and central defender Ricardo Rocha. Only four of the players who had started against Yugoslavia last time around were present from kick-off, whilst seven had begun the match in Bologna two months prior.
A big player in any sense of the adjective was central defender Mozer, the Marseille man. He had not featured since the June friendly win against Portugal, but he would take the libero role here, a position which had been held by Mauro Galvão almost ever since (and both in Copa América and the World Cup qualification). Around him were said Rocha as well as a Portugal based man in Aldair, who had also featured during both the continental tournament and in the qualifying matches. There was no Mazinho available for either wing-back position, but it did not seem to weaken them as Lazaroni had been able to call upon players such as Jorginho and Branco.
Italy based Dunga and Alemão were two of the more important players, and to complete an impressive looking midfield trio would be Sporting Lisboa man Valdo. He had seen off competition from players such as Geovani and Silas to win a starting berth. Up top, Careca and Romário had been paired, a combination infrequently used by Lazaroni. This was their first start together since the first match of the World Cup qualification. Careca, obviously a huge name in Serie A alongside Maradona in Napoli, had not even been part of the successful Copa América squad. Alternatives were domestically based ace Bebeto as well as the lively Müller, who had been doing well with Torino, now in Serie B after their relegation at the end of the 1988/89 season, for a year and a half by now.
This would only be the fourth ever meeting between the two countries, and the first since they had met in West Germany during the 1974 World Cup, where the ‘Oranje’ had triumphed by 2-0 on their path towards the final. Their first meeting had been during the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, where the South Americans had won 5-1. Two Dutch wins and that sole one for the Brazilians were the historic stats pre-match.
Werner Föckler was a 44 year old West German, appearing in his seventh international since his debut back in 1984. He had not taken part in any of the global or continental tournaments, but had officiated in two qualifiers ahead of the 1988 European Championships in his home country. It was his first time in charge of either of these two. He was, however, an experienced referee on the domestic scene, where he had made his debut in the Second Bundesliga as a 30 year old back in 1974, having begun his career in the regional leagues as a 24 year old. His greatest honour was possibly being appointed for the 1985 West German cup final, when Bayer Uerdingen had won 2-1 against Bayern Munich in Berlin.
The pitch appeared cut in some parts, especially in the more central areas, and both corner flags and various banners across the stadium indicated that there was quite a severe wind this evening in the Dutch port city. It did look like the wind would favour the home side by the time of kick-off. Temperatures were probably not exceeding freezing by much.
|1 Hans van Breukelen||33||PSV|
|2 Edward Sturing||26||Vitesse|
|3 Rob Reekers||23||Bochum|
|4 Ronald Koeman (c)||sub h-t||26||Barcelona|
|5 Adri van Tiggelen||32||Anderlecht|
|6 Jan Wouters||sub 69′||29||Ajax|
|7 Bert Latuheru||24||Vitesse|
|8 Berry van Aerle||27||PSV|
|9 Wim Kieft||sub 80′||27||PSV|
|10 Juul Ellerman||sub 22′||24||PSV|
|11 Frank Berghuis||sub 59′||22||Volendam|
|12 Martin Laamers||on h-t||22||Vitesse|
|13 Aron Winter||on 22′||22||Ajax|
|14 Danny Blind||on 69′||28||Ajax|
|15 John van’t Schip||on 59′||25||Ajax|
|17 John van Loen||on 80′||24||Roda|
|x Joop Hiele||30||Feyenoord|
|2 Jorginho||25||Bayer Leverkusen|
|3 Aldair||sub h-t||24||Benfica|
|6 Ricardo Rocha||27||São Paulo|
|8 Dunga||sub 74′||26||Fiorentina|
|9 Careca (c)||sub 74′||29||Napoli|
|11 Romário||sub 59′||23||PSV|
|14 Júlio César||on h-t||26||Montpellier|
|16 Silas||on 74′||24||Sporting Lisboa|
|17 Müller||on 74′||23||Torino|
|18 Bebeto||on 59′||25||Vasco da Gama|
|x Zé Carlos||27||Flamengo|
How they’d finish
Halfway through the second half, Wouters, who had taken over both the captaincy and the libero position from Koeman at half-time, exited for Blind, something which saw a reshuffle with Blind going to Sturing’s position, Sturing moving back into van Tiggelen’s position, and the latter seeing the game out at libero. van Aerle became the third Dutch captain of the evening.
On paper, it sounded like one heck of a clash: Last year’s European Champions against this year’s South American champions. Unfortunately, the hosts had been robbed of some great talent leading up to the game, and by the time referee Föckler raised his arm in the direction of both goalkeepers, making sure they were ready for him to commence the game with Brazil forward duo Romário and Careca about to proceed with the kick-off, expectations in the home camp were probably somewhat dampened.
Naturally, the home side were bent on proving their doubters wrong. Five of the players who had started their final qualifier, the 3-0 home win against Finland, were absent, and there were some relatively unfamiliar names among their eleven. Not least had manager Libregts given debut to three players, whilst a further one, Reekers, who had not once featured during their qualification, was also given a start. From the word ‘go’ they appeared to be up not just against the elements, a poor playing surface and terrific opposition, but also against some unfavourable decisions by their FA and the management. In the coming months, the increasing discontent with manager Libregts would indeed reach its crescendo.
The hosts would arrive at an early opportunity thanks to some laxidaisical defending by the visitors, who saw left wing-back Branco linger a few yards behind the rest of the defensive line. It almost turned disastrous for Brazil as Dutch libero Koeman spotted Kieft in an advanced position behind the central defenders, but played onside by Branco. The PSV striker had been given a rare start in the absence of both van Basten and Bosman, though he did not dare to trust his own pace and make a dash for goal himself, so instead he opted to lay the ball back for the onrushing Berghuis, the debutant winger from Volendam, who had cut in from his wide left position. Berghuis did carry an element of bohemianism about him with his long hair and characteristic style of running, and was there not a resemblance of England’s Waddle about him? Having received the ball from Kieft, he attempted a shot from 20 yards or so, to the left of goal. The recovering Jorginho made sure he was not unchallenged, and so the winger’s left-footed effort was deflected wide and over. It had been something of an early wake-up call for the visitors, though. They’d better not think that they would be having it all their way despite playing against a depleted opponent.
A look at the visitors
Brazil had arrived in the Netherlands on the back of a year which had seen them win the coveted continental title after a 40 year absence of success. It had happened on home soil, and in the wake of the success in the Copa América, they had almost immediately gone on to qualify for the World Cup, expectedly winning their three team strong qualification group. They were the only country who had been represented at every World Cup, and their followers world wide would’ve been hoping for success following the disappointment in four successive global tournaments. With manager Lazaroni, the focus was clearly on keeping a tight ship defensively, and why not? They had bowed out too early in recent World Cups, and there seemed to be a strong opinion saying that they needed to implement stronger elements of European style defending in order to have a chance of triumph.
The visitors lined up with a three man central defensive line, playing with a libero in the tall, elegant Mozer, a player with Marseille, a club on the rise both domestically in France and continentally. In the 1988/89 season, Marseille had won the first of what would be four straight league titles, and Mozer had arrived from Benfica prior to the 89/90 season. Around him in central defence were solid, if not highly spectacular, performers in Aldair and Ricardo Rocha, to his right and left respectively. Behind them was a goalkeeper by the name of Taffarel, who had established himself as the first choice in a position which had been troublesome for the Latin Americans for years. Taffarel looked solid.
The famous yellow and light blue of Brazil had often seen some adventurous contribution from their full-backs, and it would seem that both of tonight’s pair would do their best to succeed whomever had played before them. Along the right hand side was Jorginho, a player who had moved to West German football with Bayer Leverkusen after five years in Rio de Janeiro with Flamengo prior to the 1989/90 season. His outline was a distinctive attacking one, always looking to patrol the right hand side from one end to another, equipped with a strong engine and certainly fine crossing ability. Opposite of him was ‘the white one’, Branco. He was already in his fourth season in Europe, having started out with two seasons in Italian football appearing for Brescia, before securing a move to Porto. It was no surprise to anyone that many a Brazilian would enjoy playing in the Portuguese league, where language and cultural challenges were limited. Branco famously possessed a great strike with his favoured left foot.
Having conceded that early opportunity, Brazil soon took control of proceedings. Their emphasis of controlling central areas, where they outnumbered the hosts in midfield, appeared obvious: The visitors were three central midfielders against the hosts’ two, and in the way the home side had set themselves up, there was even a bit of stretch between their central midfield pair, with Wouters performing some distance behind the clearly more attacking and adventurous Ellerman. The latter had participated in two of their qualifiers, however as a left-sided winger, and so he was new to the ‘Gullit role’ in the national team. Libregts clearly wanted one defensive and one attacking midfielder, though these tactics also made sure that the visitors would dominate midfield, where the strong-tackling Dunga sat in the defensive role among their trio. Dunga would frequently come in contact with the Dutch’ attacking midfielder, so Ellerman’s task predominantly seemed to be one of freeing himself from the attention of the Fiorentina hard man. Despite being new to this position, at least at this level, Ellerman gave it a good go. He was confident on the ball, and also possessed a certain level of vision, which saw him spot team mates in wide areas, to where he would usually seek to deliever the ball. He had begun the game with some promise, and Libregts would’ve relished the chance of seeing the PSV player in this capacity.
Lack of quality wing play from hosts
Much of the Dutch play was based on their wingers being able to get to the byline and deliever telling crosses for a fairly aerially strong centre-forward. During the qualification, Vanenburg had started their first four matches, with van’t Schip taking over for the final two. This was along the right, where tonight there was a debutant in the shape of the modest looking Latuheru. The 24 year old from an enterprising Vitesse team would be up against Branco, and it would be Latuheru’s task to put crosses in for Kieft or even Ellerman to get on the end of. On the opposite side was the previously mentioned Berghuis, who appeared to begin the game with a higher level of belief than his counterpart, though it seemed unlikely that either would’ve been in the line-up had other players been available.
Perhaps would the Dutch wing play not have suffered to the extent that it did if more regular performers had featured in the wide midfield roles in their 3-4-3 system. Behind Latuheru to the right was another debutant in Sturing. It was probable that the manager had wanted to replicate whatever relations the pair had at club level, as they were both Vitesse players. Sturing came across as a compact, physical player, whose attacking ability was probably not of great international standard. He would infrequently dart into enemy territory, but in tandem with his Vitesse pal, they would rarely create havoc along the right. As the Netherlands got pegged back more and more, Sturing would first and foremost see to that no opponent got into crossing positions from his side, and so there would only be a limited range of opportunities for him to showcase whatever attacking talent he possessed. Maybe was he pleased at such prospects.
If the Dutch right hand side failed to gel, it did not appear much differently across the pitch on the left. Behind Berghuis was the blonde Reekers, apparently also a physically strong player with not a whole lof ot attacking ambition. Reekers clearly favoured strongly his left foot. In all honesty, he resembled more a typically traditional left-back, or perhaps even a left-sided central defender in a 3-5-2, rather than a wing-back. He played across the border in West Germany with Bochum. If the Netherlands’ intention had been to let Berghuis and Reekers produce a threat against the Brazilian right hand side, it would not appear an instant success.
Tough in the centre too
Centre-forward Kieft was indeed a fine player. His international career had been blocked somewhat by the fact that he had world class talent ahead of him in the pecking order, but with no van Basten in the squad for this occasion, the PSV striker would have to make the most of his chance. Unfortunately for Kieft, the lack of quality wing play would leave him fighting a losing battle with three rugged central defenders. He would be cut short of any supply from the flanks, and so he would instead hope for support from midfield, where he had team mate Ellerman behind him. However, with Dunga in often close proximity to the latter, Kieft would even be bereft of much aid from central positions too. Should he avoid total failure, it seemed like Kieft would have to trust his own ability. But how could he wriggle free of three big central defenders?
Brazil had been dominating possession in the opening stages, but they had approached the game with relative caution, and so they did not commit a whole lot of players forward at the same time. Thus, it became a manageable task for the hosts to keep them at bay, at least yet. It was vital to the Netherlands that they had their defensive backbone fairly intact, with the trio of goalkeeper van Breukelen, libero/captain R Koeman and, on this occasion, left-sided centre-back van Aerle all present. So too were experienced campaigners such as van Tiggelen and Wouters, and there was little doubt that this quintet would carry a large burden of responsibility for the Dutch on this occasion. In fact, the gap in experience and even quality between their defence and attack seemed an odd one: They were generally able to keep Brazil at an armlength’s distance, yet they were disappointingly unable to muster much inside the opposition’s half. Not that it was a great surprise with the players they had at their disposal. Could the playing material have been used differently, for example in different tactical shape?
Brazil’s front two
Tonight’s visiting captain was the fearsome Careca. The Napoli striker had not been part of the Copa América winning squad, whereas his strike partner Romário, indeed plying his daily trade in this country, had. Bebeto and Romário had been Lazaroni’s prefered couple during the continental tournament. The former was among the substitutes on this occasion. There was no indication of any animosity between Careca and Romário; they had been chatting freely ahead of kick-off. However, their lack of link-up play with one another appeared almost distinct: One would rarely look for the other. Romário was typically the more forward player of the two, with Careca having a wish to infrequently engage himself in build-up play. With Romário often seeking towards areas to the immediate right of centre, he would often come in contact with PSV team mate van Aerle, who was the left-sided of the hosts’ three central defenders. Romário’s movement off the ball was hardly impressive, whereas Careca with greater care sought to make himself an option for his midfielders or even the attacking wing-backs.
The conditions probably helped in making this less of a spectacle than it otherwise could’ve been. Banners around the pitch as well as the corner flags indicated that there were gales blowing, and it did seem as if the wind favoured the home side in the opening period, or at least that it was behind them. This could’ve encouraged libero Koeman to have a strike at goal from all of 40 yards just shy of the quarter of an hour mark, but his effort after having been teed up by Berghuis was a disappointing one. Never one to shirk from any shooting responsibility, the Dutch captain on this occasion appeared to have bitten off more than he could chew as the ball drifted well wide to the right of Taffarel’s goal.
Winter revival in the ‘Gullit role’ as Ellerman’s forced off?
Ellerman had shown some early promise: He had run into some decent positions, and he had distributed well in both directions. Therefore, it was unfortunate for the home side that they would lose his services as early as the 20th minute. He had been challenged for the ball by Dunga a few minutes earlier, ironically after the referee had signalled for a Brazilian free-kick already, and he had gone down clutching his right ankle. TV replays show how Dunga catches him in the challenge, albeit there’s no evidence of any malice from the Brazilian midfielder. After some treatment, Ellerman is back up, but his running appears hampered, and his face displays grimaces. He has to throw in the towel shortly after, and is replaced by Winter. The substitute had featured in the important attacking midfield role in the home tie against West Germany during the qualification, without being much of a success. Could he prove otherwise on this occasion?
More on the visitors’ tactics
Brazil clearly wish to involve a lot of players in their slow and meticulous build-up play. They are superior in midfield, where their trio of Dunga, in particular, Alemão and Valdo all work well to prevent the hosts from getting any kind of grip of proceedings. Valdo is the one who prefers to carry the ball deep into Dutch territory, either looking for one of the forward two or a wing-back. He does possess sublime skill, does Valdo, but he does also tend to drift out of games, hardly being equipped with the greatest level of physique. On this occasion, though, despite the conditions and the difficult pitch, he appears to thrive, possibly partly as a result of lenient Dutch pressure in midfield. Dunga’s role as enforcer is an important element in the visitors establishing their dominance, and it seems Brazil can afford having a perhaps somewhat less interested Alemão to complete their strong-looking trio. Perhaps is Alemão the one of greater international standing among the three, having indeed taken part in a World Cup already, but playing to the right among their troika, he did not seem to fire on all cylindres. He had made a couple of runs into the heart of the Dutch defence already without much success, and his passing had also not been quite of the standard that you’d have expected from someone carrying a lot of responsibility in the Napoli midfield.
Jorginho was the more attacking of the two Brazilian wing-backs, and the right-sided player delievered a couple of crosses during the first half which raised home pulses somewhat. On one occasion, Romário came close to connecting in the centre as he threw himself forward, whereas van Breukelen had to throw himself forward to gather another pass into the centre. The experienced stopper had not been tested, so the Dutch defence was able to cope with the visitors’ pressure. Not that it had been relentless and always pushing the hosts deep. Brazil clearly had been showing the home side respect, although they must have been aware that this was a depleted Netherlands team. Branco, taking aim with a free-kick from 26-27 yards and to the left of goal, is the only one to bring a save out of van Breukelen during the first half. This is on 40 minutes when he shoots with the outside of his left boot. The ‘keeper pushes it expertly away into safe territory.
The introduction of Winter for Ellerman seemed to weaken the home side. The player starting the game in the attacking midfield role had done a few things right, and had seemed to play with enthusiasm. It had been unfortunate, not just to him personally, but also to the team that he had had to come off. Winter was more static, less conscious of how to best exert himself in this role, and he clearly did not possess Ellerman’s vision or ability to stroke the ball to either flank. Kieft only seemed more isolated after Winter had come on, and even holding the ball up in order to try and bring others into play seemed an almost impossible task against three such strapping central defenders.
Rare Dutch threat
With half time looming, one would look to Libregts to bring some spark back into the home side. Their most hairy moment created had come when Berghuis had put a strong cross into the centre from along the left hand side, though the hosts had not been able to capitalize when Taffarel had spilled the ball, with Mozer mopping up before any home player could take advantage.
It had been a relatively open half with not a lot of stops, but not a lot had happened directly in front of either goal. The half-time scoreline of 0-0 gave a fair account of the match so far, despite the visitors’ advantage in possession. Brazil would need something else to unlock a sturdy home defence, which so far had coped well with whatever the visitors had thrown at them.
As both teams took to the field after the half-time break, it became evident that there had been a substitution made on each side: The hosts had replaced captain Koeman with a 22 year young debutant in Vitesse midfielder Laamers, something which would most likely result in a player reshuffle, as Laamers would surely not slot straight into Koeman’s libero position. At the other end, there had been what looked like a direct swap with Júlio César stepping into Aldair’s shoes at the heart of the Brazilian defence. The big defender, who was remembered by a global audience for his participation during the 1986 World Cup, had been selected ahead of defenders such as Ricardo Gomes and the up and coming André Cruz, who neither appeared to be in the squad. This was César’s first involvement in an official international since an abysmal 4-0 defeat at the hands of Chile in the 1987 Copa América. It was his tenth international appearance since his debut prior to the ’86 tournament.
Wouters the new libero
The second half kicked off through Latuheru and Kieft. Early in the half, the home side appeared with a clear wish to maintain possession, stroking the ball confidently about, often engaging their wide players. And how could they not? Winter in the attacking central role had so far not been able to stamp any kind of authority on proceedings, and behind him in the first half, Wouters had also seemed a bit below his usual solid standards. The personnel change during half time, however, had seen Wouters move back into Koeman’s libero role, and, surely, this position could be ideal for someone with Wouters’ qualities? He did obviously not have the departed captain’s qualities in finding team mates with inch precise 50 yard passes, but he was confident enough on the ball, he knew how to position himself, and he was definitely a fine reader of the game. Wouters would seem to be a good fit between van Tiggelen and van Aerle, who had both had competent opening halves.
Laamers had replaced Wouters in the central midfield position. The Vitesse man was relatively slender in frame, but did seem confident enough to want the ball. Early on there was not a whole lot going through him, but he would settle and try his best to help dictate Dutch operations from in and around the centre circle. Both sides prefered to play the ball along the deck rather than aim it high in the forward direction. Problem for the home side was that their wide players so far had been unable to cause much concern for the Brazilian defence. Berghuis seemed the more eager of the two wingers, and he certainly appeared to possess a decent left foot, but defensively the visitors’ midfield would aid their defenders well, assisting to shut the Dutch out through the endeavour of Alemão and, first and foremost, Dunga. Latuheru, who had featured along the left at club level for Vitesse, lived an anonymous life down the right hand side, where Branco and Ricardo Rocha kept his and Sturing’s movements well monitored.
Visitors regain foothold
Brazil seemed to be slow starters in the second half, though they would gradually eat their way back into the contest, and on six minutes Valdo will have the first pop at goal when Dunga tees him up 27-28 yards out, but his effort is wayward. The visitors seem to have the benefit of the wind behind them, something which could go a way to explaining why Valdo had opted for a shot from such a distance. The solid van Breukelen remained untested.
Return of Júlio César
Substitute Júlio César was a welcome sight for those who remembered Brazil’s ’86 campaign. The big defender seemed fit. He immediately slotted into the position left vacant by Aldair, and there was no rustiness whatsoever in his performance. He won headers, he distributed well when in possession, and he would probably outshine Aldair’s first 45 minutes. Should Júlio César continue to perform at this level, there seemed every chance he could challenge for a World Cup squad berth yet again.
The Netherlands fall behind nine minutes into the second half. They are unable to show a high enough level of aggression to disturb the visitors from confidently stroking the ball between themselves, and as Brazil probingly look for options, they work themselves down the right hand side after some nice inter-passing, when Dunga from his midfield position eventually frees Jorginho to move down the wing, tracked by Reekers. The Dutch left-sided midfielder is unable to catch up with the Leverkusen man, and Jorginho can deliever a terrific cross into the centre, where visiting captain Careca will exploit the aerial shortcomings of Wouters, who is absolutely crushed in the challenge which sees the Brazil number 9 guide a header into the net behind van Breukelen for the opening goal. He had until then not been hugely visible, Careca, but here he was when it mattered the most. Super goal. Brazil had kept possession for about a minute and had made 15-16 passes between themselves in the build-up to the goal.
It had been unfortunate for the Dutch that they had not had someone stronger in the air to try and cope with Careca in the situation which brought the goal. Wouters had been woefully exposed, though there’s no guarantee that the presence of Koeman would’ve changed much. The starting captain was also not first and foremost renowned for his aerial play. The right-sided of the two centre halfs, though, van Tiggelen, could perhaps have made a difference, but he had followed Romário’s run towards the near post, and so was already committed.
There seemed some way back for the home side. They were missing several key players, and some of the current crop were playing out of position. It also hardly favoured them that they were fielding a side with no less than four debutants (after the introduction of Laamers); the collective inexperience shone through. The Netherlands were up against very competent opposition, which so far had been very solid at the back. Mozer was playing with his natural swagger in the central position among the three stoppers, and to his left Rocha was giving another fine display. The São Paulo man was always comfortable on the ball, capable of carrying out from defence. As mentioned, Júlio César seemed hugely motivated to make amends for his contribution last time around in a Brazil jersey, and he was a towering presence to the libero’s immediate right. Together, they repelled anything which the hosts tried to throw at them.
The Dutch lone centre forward, Kieft, was not having a poor game, but he was never given working conditions which benefitted his strengths. He was a different kind of striker compared to the van Basten whom he had replaced, as he knew very well how to hold the ball up and shield it from a defender. He was also strong in the air, but against three such colossuses as the Brazilian trio he rarely stood a chance. The debutant wingers were still finding the level perhaps a tad advanced, and so there were next to no balls into the centre from either wing which Kieft could’ve taken advantage of.
Both sides decide to make another substitution after an hour. Romário, dressed in longs and wearing gloves, departed for Bebeto. The Netherlands based striker had been well looked after by the hosts, but he had still been at the end of a couple of opportunities during the first half. Since the break, though, Romário had not succeeded in gaining the upper hand on his PSV team mate van Aerle. Bebeto would bring more pace to the Brazilian attack, and perhaps did Lazaroni want to try and catch the hosts on the counter? For the Netherlands, van’t Schip replaced Berghuis on the left wing. The Ajax man would see the match out in this position, and this despite him clearly favouring the right hand side, whereas Latuheru, who was still playing on the right wing, had been seen along the left for his club side Vitesse.
The game had not been a nasty contest in any stretch of the imagination. There was a competitive edge, but perhaps to a lesser extent than had been anticipated, possibly due to the nature of the Dutch select. Would the Brazilians not have had a greater level of respect, and thus have been even more geared up, for their opponents had the Netherlands been at full strength? The South Americans are often able to maintain possession with the home players giving chase. The Dutch aggression is not always hugely visible. Jorginho, on the other hand, shows plenty thereof when he commits a nasty looking foul on van’t Schip just moments after the winger had come on. This incident did almost epitomise the game thus far: The hosts were trailing, and they could not have a lot of complaints.
There is little punch in the Dutch attack, and Winter’s so far solely a spectator. Why does the highly promising Ajax youngster struggle to such an extent to stamp his mark on proceedings? He does seem to be a misfit in the current position. Winter’s hardly an attacking midfielder. His instructions seem to be to feed off Kieft, and with Laamers behind him, it is not as if he is part of a potent midfield. Combined, they lack authority. And it does not aid their plight that they are numerically inferior, playing two men against Brazil’s midfield three. Winter, though, all of a sudden almost has a moment when he appears behind Mozer’s back and in front of Júlio César from Sturing’s deep cross into the box. The midfielder does reach the ball with his head, but he is unable to get any conviction behind his header, and the ball skids off him and sails harmlessly wide. It could’ve been interesting to see what Gullit would’ve made of that ball. The player Winter was filling in for was more than just an average header of the ball.
Jorginho shows his engine
By far the most attacking defender on the pitch is the Brazilian right-back. Jorginho is having a good game, and the ground he covers must impress most onlookers. He is up and down that right hand side almost constantly, and, importantly, he had been assisting Careca for the goal. Jorginho easily outshines Branco, the opposite full-back, who is far less cautious in his approach inside the Dutch half. Lazaroni also appears to have given at least one, usually two, central defenders the freedom to come forward for attacking corner kicks. In the second half, it is usually Mozer and Júlio César. They both represent formidable aerial power, though this resource will still not be fully exploited, despite a number of set-pieces inside the Dutch half of the pitch. Approaching the halfway point in the second half, Mozer attempts to tee the ball up for himself to have a go from all of 35 yards, but he does not hit his half volley clean, and the effort sails unimpressively wide. The visitors are still in control of proceedings.
Another Dutch captain replaced
Wouters lasts until just beyond the halfway stage in the second half, when Libregts withdraws him and sends on Danny Blind. The Ajax utility man is 28 years of age, a footballer in his prime, but he has not featured for the national select in almost three years. Whatmore: He’s never represented his country in finals nor in qualifiers. The introduction of Blind brings about a further reshuffle, as van Tiggelen will be the one who slots into the now vacant libero position, with Sturing retracting from his wide role to see the game out in van Tiggelen’s right-sided central defensive role. This means Blind has been identified by the manager as the player he wants to keep width along the right as the hosts go in search for an equalizer. So far, very little threat has arrived from this flank, and any cross from the right hand side has been delievered from deep positions. Is Blind the man to change that? With Wouters off, van Aerle becomes the third Dutch captain of the evening.
There is sadly little cohesion in the Netherlands’ play. In a makeshift side, a lot of the players appear to be strangers to one another. Being up against such a quality opponent, this does not bode well for the remaining 20 minutes or so. Taffarel has yet not had a save to make, other than pushing that first half cross from Berghuis out into slightly dangerous territory. Latuheru tries to play Blind down the right, but the pass is a shocking one, and leaves the newly entered player with no chance of getting to the ball before it crosses the touchline. And with van’t Schip clearly not performing to the best of his level down the left, why not switch sides for him and Latuheru? They shall both remain misfits through to the full time whistle along each their original flank.
It must be said that Brazil are also not creating much which could have spelt danger for the home side. If Romário had lived a muted second half existence, then his successor Bebeto is so far not much of an improvement. He has been unable to make use of his pace, and he is being well watched by the Dutch defence, which is their sole well-functioning body within the team. And this despite the fact that they’re all more or less playing out of regular position by now. Berry van Aerle’s had a very good game in his central defensive position, and he’s given neither Brazil forward much space all night. Now the visitors make another change as they take their captain Careca, the goalscorer, off. On comes another European based player in Torino’s forward Müller, the player whose artistic name’s based on a certain West German goalscoring sensation from the past. Jorginho pulls on the captain’s armband.
Only a few seconds separate Müller and the introduction of Silas to the visitors’ midfield. The latter comes on when Lazaroni takes the strong looking Dunga off. Dunga has been in the thick of the action all night, and produced a typically combative display. He had also been instrumental in the goal, releasing Jorginho down the right for the decisive cross. With Silas on, the manager chose Alemão for Dunga’s defensive role, and, as expected, Silas would take up the position which Alemão had previously been in: slightly advanced and to the right of the defensive midfield berth.
van Loen brought on
Amidst the flurry of substitutions in both camps, there’s not a whole lot of productive play. As the home side appears to lose belief, they more often than not decide to search long for Kieft, who is still being closely watched by the visitors’ rear guard. Kieft had been savagely flattened by Mozer on an earlier occasion in the second half, but he is never short in effort, and despite fighting a losing battle, he never gives up. However, with ten minutes left for play, Libregts takes his striker off and brings on the tall van Loen, who comes on to win his fifth cap. Perhaps will he be able to challenge better for aerial balls? It must be added, though, that unless van Loen is brought on to win headers inside the penalty area, the change does not seem a beneficial one for the hosts. Kieft had done ok given the conditions under which he had to work; it had been the players in other attacking roles which had let him down. Was van Loen someone to carry on doing a lot of hard work on his own?
Bebeto had struck on target on 75 minutes, but with his shot coming from all of 30 yards, it had not presented van Breukelen with an awful lot of trouble. He had seemed to make a better impression since having Müller as his strike partner, had Bebeto, with some quick turns on the ball and drawing defenders out of position, as well as some fancy footwork. Eight minutes from time, Bebeto again strikes from distance, but on this occasion his effort fails to hit the target, van Breukelen watching it all the way as it went a few yards to his right.
Branco with final test of van Breukelen
The final few minutes see little in terms of frantic play from the home side in order to get the ball into the box for van Loen to perhaps cause a miracle in the battle with the sturdy Brazilian defensive line. There’s a couple of attempts from midfield set-pieces (Laamers) to try and find him, but neither is successful. The visitors’ midfielders are well equipped to help them see the game out, as they are more than useful in possession. They display little passes between themselves and keep the home players frustrated. In particular Valdo’s done well with his level of close control, more or less throughout the match. One final effort comes the visitors’ way when Branco does well in the central area, and having advanced until around 35 yards out, he lets fly with his infamous left boot. The Dutch ‘keeper has to dive down low to his right to save almost by the right hand post. Had van Breukelen not been alert, the ball would’ve crept in. He concedes no rebound, something which appears to be yet another of this fine goalkeeper’s strengths.
The West German referee brings proceedings to an end 25 seconds into time added on. The Netherlands could have few complaints about the outcome. Brazil had been the dominant side for large chunks of the game, even if they had largely been testing van Breukelen from distance. The goal had been a treat, though perhaps not what a global audience would’ve thought of as ‘typical Brazilian’, as Careca had won in the air against Wouters.
The match showed that the Dutch second strings were quite far behind their best players, and that they would need every single star available to them should their hopes of causing great stir next summer be kept alive. They had deservedly lost to superior opposition, and fielding four debutants against one of the favourites to win the Jules Rimet trophy had not been the best recipe. Brazil could be well pleased with how they had maintained dominance for most of the match, and another impressive away scalp on European soil would have done them a whole lot of good ahead of the remaining preparation time. But perhaps should they not read too much into this result alone?
1 van Breukelen 7.1
secure. Some necessary stops. Not at fault for goal
2 Sturing 6.6
strong commitment, but not always a lot of quality
3 Reekers 6.7
strong physique, but a fairly stationary performance along the left
4 R Koeman 6.8
did not do any more than he needed to before being replaced at half time
(12 Laamers 6.6
a bit light weight, and was outnumbered by the opposition. Did spray a couple of sweet passes, but could not excel on his debut)
5 van Tiggelen 6.9
solid defensively as you would expect
6 Wouters 6.6
seen more hard-working before; not his usual confident self in the first half midfield battle. Heavily beaten in the air for the goal when out of position as libero. Tactically substituted
(14 Blind –
a wide option after coming on, but sparingly used)
7 Latuheru 6.1
offered next to nothing
8 van Aerle 7.4
easily the best Dutch player, finished the game as captain. Kept Romário in check. Fully committed throughout
9 Kieft 6.8
could not be faulted for effort, but lacked support and fought a losing battle against big defenders
(17 van Loen –
a couple of poor touches after coming on)
10 Ellerman –
very unfortunate to leave early with injury. Had shown some enterprise prior to that. A clear loss to the Dutch
(13 Winter 6.4
carried no influence from the attacking midfield position)
11 Berghuis 6.8
quite frequently involved, and never hid, though not always precise nor fortunate
(15 van’t Schip 6.3
out of sorts along the left)
1 Taffarel 6.8
little to do. Pushed Berghuis’ teasing first half cross out into dangerous territory, and otherwise only dealt with back passes
2 Jorginho 7.7
terrific performance, super cross for only goal. Up and down the right hand side all night. Strong in the tackle
3 Aldair 6.9
strong in the air, but not always impressive in his passing
(14 Júlio César 7.4
positioning, aerial strength, speed: very competent second half performance)
4 Mozer 7.3
towering presence at the back, never allowed Kieft any room to shine
5 Branco 7.0
defensively secure, twice tested van Breukelen from distance, but not an awful lot involved along the left
6 Ricardo Rocha 7.2
seems to be a Lazaroni favourite, and one can see why: so assured on the ball! Positioning another of his fortes
7 Alemão 7.0
a couple of galopping runs in the forward direction, and saw to his defensive duties when he had to
8 Dunga 7.4
strong midfield presence and influence, very solid game as enforcer. Instrumental even in the build up for the goal
(16 Silas –
unable to exert himself in cameo)
9 Careca 6.9
such a strong header for the goal, but did not impress an awful lot in general play on a chilly night
(17 Müller –
kept himself towards the right of centre after coming on, and seemed to bring the best out of Bebeto)
10 Valdo 7.1
delightful close control, and combined well with the other midfielders. Probably better in the centre, where he has more responsibility, than out wide
11 Romário 6.8
did not always get a lot of fortune out of PSV team mate van Aerle, and inter-play with Careca not always top notch. Still almost at the end of a Jorginho cross, and also had a first half shooting opportunity from an angle
(18 Bebeto 6.9
subdued first 15 minutes after coming on, but seemed to come to life when Müller became his partner, and drifted well)