The teams have met three times in the World Cup and honors are about even. Dutch coach Johan Cruyff inspired Holland to beat Brazil 2-0 on their way to the final in 1974; Brazil took their revenge in 1994 when a late Branco free kick gave Brazil a 3-2 victory; and then the sides were tied in the 1998 semi-final. Brazil won that game in penalties after goals from Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima (Ronaldinho) and Patrick Kluivert had left the teams tied at 1-1.
This time around it should be equally tight and the focal point will be how well Brazil’s potent attack does against Holland’s stingy defense.
Brazil, though, will win and for these three reasons:
1) They have the two best central defenders in the game. (Sorry Señor Puyol.) Lucio and Juan are immense. Lucio, especially, has been a rock all season for Milan-based F.C. Internazionale. (It beggars belief that Louis van Gaal didn’t think him good enough for Bayern Munich.) And he has been outstanding for Brazil so far. Nothing gets past them.
2) They have more players who can change the game with a flick, a surging run, or a defense-splitting pass. Even with star midfielder Elano out due to an ankle injury, when it comes to doing the unexpected, no one beats Brazil. Coach Dunga might have made them more European than the Europeans (and not much fun to watch in the process) but they still have that innate skill and ability to do amazing things with the ball, especially in tight spaces. The remaining games will be won by a single goal and all it takes is a moment of magic.
3) Tradition breeds winners. Because Brazil has won the World Cup five times, the pressure on them (the positive kind of pressure) is greater. Holland have reached the final twice, but way back in the 1970s. These players haven’t been there before.
Don't buy the argument? Read three reasons why the Netherlands will beat Brazil.
World Cup 101: