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Page last updated at 08:32 GMT, Saturday, 3 July 2010 09:32 UK

World Cup 2010: Lee Dixon's tactical view

Netherlands celebrate beating Brazil

Highlights - Netherlands 2-1 Brazil

Lee Dixon
By Lee Dixon
Former England defender and BBC Sport pundit

Brazil were one of the World Cup's pre-tournament favourites but after their shock 2-1 defeat by the Netherlands in their quarter-final on Friday, they only have themselves to blame.

We have seen a lot of poor defending in South Africa so far but, until the start of the second-half against the Dutch, the Brazilians probably had one of the most reliable back-fours in the competition.

So it was surprise to see them undone by such schoolboy errors. Both the goals they conceded were not because of good play, any piece of fine skill, or even being out-thought tactically.

All they faced was some quick thinking by the Dutch, and it only worked because Brazil showed such poor concentration.

I cannot really explain why top-class defenders would defend in the way they did, and it really should not happen in a World Cup quarter-final.


For the first Netherlands goal there were three mistakes in one. They not only allowed a short free-kick to be taken, they were caught totally unawares by it.

When it is taken, two Brazilian players have their backs turned and are high-fiving on the edge of the box for some reason and then, when the ball eventually comes into the area, the keeper Julio Cesar has a complete nightmare too.

It was undisciplined from a team point of view too. Robinho allowed the free-kick to be taken because he was checking if the Dutch player was alright, but there should have been other people watching and organising things.

Then, for the second goal, Brazil allowed Dirk Kuyt to make a run into space at the near post that should have been covered by a front defender as a matter of routine.

Kuyt was not even looking to see if any of his team-mates were behind him and there were only about three other Dutch players who were even close to the goal anyway.

But he nips in, gets the flick and, despite Brazil having virtually every man back, Wesley Sneijder, who is virtually the smallest man on the pitch, heads in the winner.

The Brazilians have shown themselves up by not having a high level of concentration

Lee Dixon

Basically, it is just two set-pieces that have cost Brazil and it is uncharacteristic for a top-level team to be that disorganised.

After going 2-1 behind they had Felipe Melo sent off and the whole team seemed to lose their discipline - they ended up a bit rag-tail at the end.

We always talk about how players need to focus for 90 minutes and having the ability to do that is part of being a top player.

But quite frankly, some of the Brazilians have shown themselves up as not having that level of concentration. They are great when they have got the ball but, if you cannot defend basic stuff like that, then you are not going to win the World Cup - as has just been proven.

As for the Netherlands, I always felt we had not seen the best of them yet and they have been progressively getting into their stride.

They are more defence-minded than previous Dutch teams but some of their best players are growing in influence as the tournament goes on, and they are in with a great chance now.

Arjen Robben came into the World Cup with an injury but he is fit now and he is proving to be a real handful and he will always create stuff in and around the box like he did against Brazil.

He still looks a bit tentative but that is normal coming back from a hamstring problem. We are starting to see the best of him and he will have to be on top form if Bert van Marwijk's side are going to lift the trophy.

Lee Dixon was talking to BBC Sport's Chris Bevan in Cape Town.

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see also
Dunga ready to end Brazil reign
02 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Team talk inspired us - Sneijder
02 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Team tracker and Predictor
27 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup venues
05 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010

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