Both sides settled on more pragmatic styles.
ALMOST as soon as the World Cup draw was made, pundits began salivating about the prospect of a potential quarter-final meeting between Holland and Brazil, but as the date has drawn closer there has been a realisation that today's Port Elizabeth clash may not produce the free-flowing feast of football that everyone was hoping for.
Both countries have a reputation for playing their football with flair and panache but their glorious histories have cut no ice with either Holland boss Bert van Marwijk and Brazilian head coach Dunga, who are making no apologies for placing functionality over flair.
Van Marwijk has developed a more pragmatic Dutch team than the world has become accustomed to and his methods have produced a string of consistent results - 23 matches unbeaten stretching back to September 2008.
Instead of following the principles of total football, van Marwijk has stuck with a rigid 4-2-3-1 formation which requires the majority of his players to carry out a well-rehearsed gameplan.
And there have been one or two signs that some of his flair players are getting frustrated with the way that they are being used. Robin van Persie reacted angrily after being substituted in the second half of Holland's 2-1 victory over Slovakia, and claimed Wesley Sneijder should have been taken off instead.
Van Marwijk insists that the incident has been dealt with but he will need to ensure that his star players are pulling in the same direction if they are to succeed against the World Cup favourites.
Brazil opened their campaign with an unconvincing 2-1 victory over North Korea but they have raised the bar considerably with convincing victories over Ivory Coast (3-1) and Chile (3-0).
Eight goals from four games is a decent return but Brazil's success has been built on the foundations of an extremely solid defence, and they have kept two successive clean sheets.
Dunga is blessed with top-class goalkeeper Julio Cesar and powerful centre-backs Juan and Lucio. But he insists on giving his rearguard the extra insurance of a pair of holding midfielders.
That policy has worked well against poorly organised opponents but Dunga may need to consider a more expansive approach against a disciplined Dutch side who have conceded just two goals in four games.
Brazil's Luis Fabiano has provided some of the rare moments of flair from his team
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|Publication:||The Racing Post (London, England)|
|Date:||Jul 2, 2010|
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