A match for third place is often billed as the game that neither coaches nor players want to take part in. However, when Belgium and Brazil meet in Shanghai on Friday, a bronze medal and a place in Olympic history is up for grabs. Those feelings were summed up by Ronaldinho, who after his side's 3-0 defeat to arch-rivals Argentina said: "It's not easy to find the motivation for our final game, but we have to because it's worth an Olympic medal."
History certainly favours the Selecao. This is the fourth meeting between the two nations in a FIFA competition and interestingly three matches have been played in Asia and won by Brazil, with Belgium failing to score. Brazil thrashed their European counterparts 10-0 at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Malaysia 1997, won 2-0 after extra time in the Round of 16 at Korea/Japan 2002 and 1-0 in the group stages of this Olympic Football Tournament, thanks to Hernanes' 79th minute strike.
Defeat in that match in Shenyang was a little harsh on a Belgian side that, for the bulk of this match, comfortably contained a star-studded Brazilian outfit containing the likes of Ronaldinho, Diego and Alexandre Pato. In the end, it was tenacious play from Diego who paved the way for the Sao Paulo midfielder to twist and turn his way into a shooting position and rifle a left-foot shot into the roof of the net.
However, despite this defeat in the opening match, Belgium coach Jean-Francois de Sart, believes that his team have a real shout against the South Americans.
"Obviously, we're obliged to play a losing semi-finalist," said the coach the morning after the 4-1 defeat to Nigeria. "I would have much rather been playing a team who win, but we've already played Brazil, so I'm quite pleased we're playing them again. Brazil couldn't find a way through against our defensive system and there were periods of the game that I thought we were better than them."
In that match Maroune Fellaini and Vincent Kompany, who have since returned to their clubs, were sent off for two bookable offences, but Brazil were also reduced to nine men on Tuesday when Lucas and Thiago Neves both received their marching orders
"I'm going to continue my work and I'll stick to my convictions," said Dunga. "At this delicate moment, I have to keep a cool head and help the team bounce back against Belgium. We were working towards winning the gold medal but sometimes things just don't work out. All we can do is keep believing in ourselves."
If Brazil win the match, Dunga could be the third footballing Olympian after Sweden's Rudolf Koch and Yugoslavia's Ljubomir Lovric to win a medal as a player and a coach.
It may be a small consolation to the under-fire Brazil coach, but at this stage a place on the podium is all that the former FIFA World Cup™ winner can achieve at this tournament.