Clearly football is played on the pitch and not on paper. However, knowing about formations can help understand what the key battles are going to be. In this game, both Brazil and Holland play 4-2-3-1.  This has the potential to lead to stalemate, although as Jonathan Wilson has written, the European version is different from the Brazilian one. Anyway, lets see what the 3 key matchups are.

Who is marking Robinho? The two Dutch holding midfielders will be looking after Kaka so Van Bijl needs to keep track of Robinho. As Wilson writes, the problem he has is that Robinho does not play as a pure winger so Van Bijl may need to follow him inside, which he may not be used to.

Robben v Bastos: Holland haven’t looked great in the World Cup but Robben always looks dangerous when he picks up the ball. I’m not sure that Michel Bastos can check him 1 on 1. If he can’t then Felipe Melo will need to push left and double team him. This could then create space for Sneijder against Gilberto.

Brazil’s Right Side: Maicon marauding down the right is a key part of Brazil’s strategy. He has some problems in this game. Firstly, Dirk Kuyt playing wide left will push up on him and try and prevent him getting the ball. This would normally be a dangerous strategy for Holland as it would create space for the subtlety of Elano or the drive of Ramires.

With both missing Dani Alves is playing there. Undoubtedly he’s a great athletic right back, but whether he can intelligently use the space given to him will be a key to the game.

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