Why Brazil v Netherlands is the most important third-place play-off in World Cup history

Rarely has there been so much pressure on any team competing in the consolation match of the tournament.

Many people question the credibility of the regular third-place play-off game seen at major international tournaments, with the fixture usually providing a low-key response from the nations involved.

It normally presents a lethargic curtain-raiser to the main event of the final the following day, but this time it will be very different.

No big-hitting side has ever seen their World Cup bid, especially as the home nation, end in such humiliating fashion as Brazil did to Germany on Tuesday night.

The 7-1 annihilation has crushed the hearts of a natio, and put its footballing philosophy to shame. That is why there will be more pressure than there has ever been in a third-place play-off for Brazil to perform.

It is essential that they show the game against Germany was a freak result, that they can still display the passion and flamboyance required to tear apart the opposition. Everything is on the line after the German rout, and a convincing win for the Netherlands will only send the country into further uproar.

Thiago Silva will likely return to add some authority and control back to the defensive line. Fred, who has been criticised since the first game of the tournament, will surely be dropped after a dismal month, with Chelsea’s Willian also hoping to come in and prove that he is a big part of Brazil’s plans going forward.

It still beggars belief that a nation, with the place that Brazil holds in the game, can disintegrate so spectacularly over the course of 90 minutes.

Brazilian football needs rebuilding, regardless of the play-off result. But it is a chance to show that as a squad, it is not all bad, and that the size of the task to get them back to where they belong, is not as big as Tuesday's performance suggested.

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