For certain footballing nations, simply winning a game is not enough for their demanding supporters. Take Brazil and the Netherlands, for example, whose legendary sides at the 1970 and 1974 finals, respectively, played beautiful football that subsequent generations have struggled to match.
When two such nations meet, one might expect an open, expansive encounter, but that is not what many are predicting for 2 July's clash in Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth at the quarter-final stage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™. Quite the contrary in fact, for both Dunga and Bert van Marwijk's charges have been favouring a more cagey counter-attacking style so far, a tactic which suits their solid backlines and quick, skilful front-runners.
The numbers back up these choices of strategy, though, with the five-time world champions winning three and drawing one of their four games here at South Africa 2010 and the two-time finalists boasting a 100 per cent record. Even though Brazil have scored eight goals to Netherlands' seven, with both having conceded just twice, calls for their national teams to play more vibrant, attacking football have been frequent and vocal in the two countries' media.
"Of the European sides, the Netherlands are perhaps most similar to us South Americans in terms of technical ability," said Dunga on the speed and quality that the likes of Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder can bring to bear. "They traditionally produce teams that play nice football. They're not a team that just defends or one that plays a long-ball game. They've got very technical players and we need to be ready for that." The mutual love-in continued with Van Marwijk, who chose to highlight the current Brazil team's steely defence. "Brazil have six really impressive defensive players and attackers who are capable of making a difference at any moment. They"re a solid side,” said the former Feyenoord and Borussia Dortmund boss.
I'm not sure whether they'll really go for it against us, but they will try and play football.
Who will blink first?
With both teams happy for their opponents to take the initiative, thus leaving spaces behind to exploit on the break, is there a danger Friday's proceedings will bear more resemblance to chess than the beautiful game? "We need to carefully study the Netherlands' previous matches, but I'm sure that they're a team that will try and play football," said Brazil No10 Kaka in the wake of a textbook counter-punching display by A Seleção in the 3-0 Round of 16 win over Chile.
"I'm not sure whether they'll really go for it against us, but they will try and play football," added the Real Madrid star, with Sevilla striker Luis Fabiano echoing his countryman's views: "From what I've seen, the Netherlands are quite attacking and have players who are good going forward. I think that they'll try and take the game to us, so we'll have to be careful because they're very dangerous. That said, any team that tries to attack Brazil are playing with fire.”
Van Marwijk has an idea of what to expect come Friday. "We've controlled the play in all our games so far; we've scored seven goals and only conceded two and we've hardly been in any danger. But I think that's going to change when we meet Brazil." Whatever happens, with the likes of Robben, Robinho, Sneijder, Kaka, Robin van Persie and Luis Fabiano involved, and given both teams' sparkling recent form, the Port Elizabeth Stadium is certain to play host to a fascinating encounter.