Could Robin van Persie add to his tally of three for the tournament? Would Chelsea's Braziian contingent of Oscar, Willian and Ramires lift the hosts' spirits or would Aston Villa centre-back Ron Vlaar keep them at bay?
Goal examines how they, and the rest of the representatives from England's top flight performed on World Cup day 25...
Having struggled to make a significant impact in the semi-final defeat to Argentina, Van Persie once again showed why he is still classed as one of the top marksmen around with his performance in the third-place play-off clash with Brazil.
The Manchester United striker may not have had a catalogue of chances on the night but his contribution was telling, as Netherlands piled on the misery for the hosts by securing a 3-0 win.
And he made his mark very early on against Luis Felipe Scolari's men, brushing Thiago Silva aside and laying the ball through for Arjen Robben in the opening minutes, with the Paris Saint-Germain defender pulling back the flying winger to concede a penalty.
Van Persie stepped up and made no mistake from the spot, smashing the ball high into the top corner to leave Julio Cesar no chance as he got Netherlands off to a commanding start in what would prove a comfortable win.
|DE GUZMAN & VLAAR
With Wesley Sneijder an injury casualty in the warm-up, Jonathan de Guzman was given the nod to start against Brazil and, with his future uncertain, potentially impress any watching suitors.
And the Swansea City loan star did not disappoint, with his major contribution of the game coming after 16 minutes as he lofted the ball across from the byline that eventually ended up with Daley Blind smashing into the net after a slack headed clearence from David Luiz.
Aston Villa centre-back Ron Vlaar, meanwhile, was a commanding presence at the back for Netherlands. With Luiz giving his latest demonstration of how not to defend at the other end, Vlaar comfortably dealt with anything and everything Brazil threw at it to help his side keep a clean sheet.
Brazil’s busy No.10 had another game to forget as he struggled to assert himself between the two lines of the Dutch defence and midfield.
His touches, both to control for himself and to pass on to team-mates, were frequently heavy, the performance of a player both physically and emotionally tired of the tournament.
The Chelsea youngster was on the end of a strange refereeing decision, too, in the second half. Oscar was booked for simulation when he went down in the box under a challenge that made contact enough for tackler Daley Blind to have to go off on a stretcher. The Brazilian, understandably, was not best pleased but he could not use that anger to focus his efforts.
|WILLIAN & FERNANDINHO|
The Chelsea winger was finally given what was seen by many as a long-overdue first start of the tournament, taking the role of left-wing livewire – Neymar substitute - over from Bernard, though he had little real impact on the game.
Struggling to find space in which to operate, Willian had few chances to use his pace against the Dutch back line, the target of one or two long passes but usually closed down well. When he did get an opportunity to deliver, it usually went straight to Jasper Cillessen or a defender.
Fernandinho of Manchester City entered the fray at half-time as Brazil looked to reel in Netherlands' lead and soon picked up a yellow card for clattering into Robin van Persie. He continued to make his presence felt but the Selecao’s efforts further up the pitch could not make anything of it.
There was a shout for a penalty when he collided with Arjen Robben later in the second half but there was very little to it and the appeal was rightly ignored.
|PAULINHO & RAMIRES|
Both Paulinho and Ramires returned to the starting XI to face Oranje, having been dropped from the lineup that began against Germany before five first-half goals for Die Mannschaft prompted a half-time reshuffle from Felipao.
The Tottenham midfielder – who has struggled for form since moving to north London and has fared little better in the more familiar surroundings of the Selecao – sat deep alongside, initially, Luiz Gustavo, while Ramires took up a more advanced role on the right flank.
But both players struggled to affect a match that threatened to veer towards the calamity and humiliation of the semi-final when the Netherlands struck twice early on.
The two players completed 14 passes apiece – combined they managed fewer than Fernandinho, who came on as a half-time substitute. Ramires was the most dispossessed Brazilian on the field, though Paulinho, who tried to get involved with the nitty gritty, managed to record three interceptions, the most of any of his team-mates while he was on the pitch.
In an attacking sense it was a case of so near yet so far. Both players found time and space in the pocket and were presented with opportunities to thread passes, but too often they were let down by heavy touches, over-hit through-balls or miscontrol.
Ramires came alive in bursts, darting beyond Ron Vlaar before unleashing a powerful shot, though his pass accuracy of just 67 per cent – the lowest of any outfield player on the pitch – highlights how wasteful he was on the ball.
Paulinho, meanwhile, was subbed off just before the hour-mark, replaced by Hernanes, whose greater intensity off the ball, and culture and vision on it, were instantly made apparent. Another underwhelming outing for the Spurs man typified and concluded a frustrating summer.