The Rio Report

Seven truths: David Luiz, Jo and who Brazil should have picked

The Rio Report

Here's what we found out from the third-place play-off as Netherlands inflicted another traumatic defeat on World Cup hosts Brazil.

It takes more than four days to recover from the worst thrashing in your history

Louis van Gaal said he didn’t want to play the game, but it was the Brazilians who looked like they’d rather be anywhere but the Estadio Mane Garrincha. The hosts were still feeling the shock of their 7-1 mauling by Germany as they slumped two early goals behind, showing a complete lack of cohesion. Luiz Felipe Scolari gambled on function and organisation to win the World Cup. When that disappeared, his team’s limitations were exposed horribly.

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We’ve learned nothing new about David Luiz this World Cup

What’s that? He’s a bit error-prone? His positioning’s all over the place? It’s true that Luiz had two truly abysmal games, but previously he’d been enjoying a fine tournament. PSG are a laughing stock for shelling out £50m to bring him in from Chelsea – but they knew all about his strengths and weaknesses when they signed him. Laurent Blanc won’t be doing cartwheels, but he’s seen nothing from Luiz that he didn’t already know.

‘If only they’d had Thiago Silva against Germany’ Err...

The absence of the Brazilian captain in the semi-final was considered every bit as crucial as Neymar’s injury. So Thiago Silva comes back, and within two minutes he’s brought Arjen Robben down when clean through on goal. Only the mother of all bottle jobs from referee Djamel Haimoudi kept Silva on the pitch, but he offered no sort of steadying presence at the back as Brazil’s goals conceded tally for the week reached double figures.

Brazil DO have players. They just didn’t pick them…

Want to know why Fred was Brazil’s main striker? Meet Jo! The shambles up front has led many to conclude Brazil suffer a fundamental lack of talent. But hang on a minute. Look at this team of players who were left out of Luiz Felipe Scolari’s squad. It doesn’t include the likes of Kaka, Robinho, Ronaldinho or Diego Costa who might not have jumped ship to Spain if handled differently. They might not have the stars of 2002, but Brazil definitely have quality, and the omission of players like Atletico Madrid duo Filipe Luis and Miranda beggars belief.

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...and you don’t need world-beaters, either

Not only did Louis van Gaal unleash Arjen Robben to devastating effect, he also coaxed some brilliant performances out of limited players. Ron Vlaar was transformed from a solid but ponderous Aston Villa stopper into one of the World Cup’s best defenders. And how about Dirk Kuyt’s performances at wing-back? These foot soldiers set the stage for the Dutch stars to shine.

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Manchester United can feel slightly smug

After the humiliating David Moyes era, the last thing United needed was for Louis van Gaal to come a cropper in the Group of Death and arrive at Old Trafford a freshly-appointed laughing stock. A podium position and some notable tactical triumphs have enhanced Van Gaal’s reputation and allowed his new employers to head into the new season in cautiously optimistic mood. The United fans certainly seem happy - snapping up season tickets in record time.

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Yes, the third-place play-off is worth playing

Indifference and reluctance were the prevailing emotions ahead of Saturday’s game. Honestly, what’s the matter with people? Do they not realise that after this weekend there’s no World Cup for FOUR YEARS! And in the end we got a night that capped off one of the greatest meltdowns in sporting history, and allowed the Dutch to end a fine campaign on a high note. And above all, more World Cup football is better than less World Cup football.

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