By Stefan Coerts
Brazil were gunning for revenge when they faced the Netherlands in an international friendly on Saturday evening, but the Selecao failed to make amends for last year’s World Cup quarter-final defeat as they had to settle for a scoreless draw.
National team coach Mano Menezes will be pleased with his side’s defensive performance, as Oranje were limited to two clear chances throughout the match. Both Ibrahim Afellay and Robin van Persie were unable to add their respective names to the scoresheet, though, in Julio Cesar’s second consecutive clean sheet for Brazil.
Menezes will be less impressed, however, with his side’s attacking display against a Dutch XI without several key players. Although they fashioned a number of chances to break the deadlock, the South Americans failed to find the net, and have now gone without goals in three of their last four games.
Only Santos sensation Neymar has been successful for Brazil in 2011, and they appear to have a serious problem with only four weeks until the start of the Copa America. With talents such as Neymar, Alexandre Pato (who is currently injured) and Robinho, the Selecao have plenty of attacking ability, however, none of the aforementioned players is a natural goalscorer in the mould of Romario or Ronaldo, and this has cost them dearly against Argentina, France and now the Dutch.
Van Persie going down | No goals, but plenty of tackles in BrazilLuis Fabiano was Brazil’s No. 9 in South Africa, but the former Sevilla man has not been called up by Menezes since he took the reins. The tactician has yet to find the perfect successor for Fabiano as he has experimented with several options up front. Internacional’s Leandro Damiao is one of the few natural goalscorers around, and could be the man Menezes is looking for. Nevertheless, the 21-year-old has yet to score his first international goal and lacks top-level experience, leaving Brazil rather vulnerable ahead of the upcoming South American championships.
Their lack of punch in attack does not make them any less of a favourite, but Saturday’s draw will have reminded Menezes of his side’s biggest flaw. The Selecao have four more weeks until their opening match against Venezuela on July 3, and working on attacking patterns will be one of the main points on the the coach's agenda until then.
Meanwhile, Bert van Marwijk will be reasonably content with Oranje’s performance. Last year’s World Cup finalists were without several starters due to injury, and some feared that a heavy defeat could be in the offing. The Dutch ‘reserves’ held their own, though, and debutant goalkeeper Tim Krul in particular produced an impressive performance.
The Newcastle United glovesman has long been touted as a future star, but a lack of playing time at the Premier League side has prevented him from making a name for himself. The injuries of Maarten Stekelenburg and Michel Vorm presented the 23-year-old the opportunity to shine and he showed his class with some fine saves.
|MAN OF THE MATCH|
|Name: Tim Krul
Club: Newcastle United
Date of birth: April 3, 1988 (23)
Although it is very unlikely that Krul will displace Stekelenburg as first choice goalkeeper any time soon, he certainly did not adversely affect his chances of being included into Oranje’s Euro 2012 squad. Shot-stoppers such as Sander Boschker and Piet Velthuizen, who fought it out for the position of third goalkeeper ahead of the 2010 World Cup, both seem out of the picture at the moment following their reserve roles at club level, while both Jasper Cillessen and Jelle Ten Rouwelaar are decent players, but hardly of international level. It’s up to Krul to prove next season that Saturday’s display was not an one-off and strive forward to confirm his immense potential.