Brazil’s World Cup campaign came to a miserable end as the hosts were convincingly beaten by the Netherlands in the third-place play-off.
Goals from Robin van Persie, Daley Blind and Georginio Wijnaldum condemned Brazil to back-to-back defeats on home soil for the first time since 1940, following Tuesday’s embarrassing 7-1 loss to Germany in the semi-final. As an added insult, the hosts must now watch on as their fiercest rivals Argentina take on Germany for the chance to win the World Cup at Brazilian football’s spiritual home, the Maracana, on Sunday.
Having backed their side so vocally throughout, home supporters turned on Brazil in the semi-final defeat on Tuesday, cheering opposition attacks and directing loud boos at their own players, and their frustration continued in the capital, Brasilia. Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari bore the brunt of their anger, and his long-term future as national team boss is now in doubt.
Brazil’s fans had packed homes, bars and fan parks to watch the action, leaving streets near empty, but the shock defeat by Germany left a question mark over how they would greet their team before Saturday’s game. There was little indication in the build-up that their interest had wavered, as thousands descended on the Copacabana beach fan park in Rio de Janeiro, while the Estadio Nacional was close to capacity.
When the teams emerged from the tunnel to go through their pre-match warm-ups, the players were greeted by loud cheers, which increased in volume when injured talisman Neymar appeared. The striker – who scored four goals before a back injury ruled him out of the Germany debacle – was wearing a full training kit, but watched from the bench as his team-mates went onto the pitch.
It seemed the Brazilian fans were determined to support their team, but they also made it known they had not forgotten the defeat by Germany as loud boos rang out when the names of Scolari and beleaguered striker Fred, 30, were read out. Fred was one of six starters against Germany who were relegated to the bench against the Netherlands, and several players from Brazil’s 23-man squad are likely to have played in their last World Cup. Whatever the future does hold, it was briefly forgotten about before Saturday’s game as players and fans once again sang the Brazil national anthem in unison.