Holland 1974
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Holland 1978.
Group A, Wednesday 3rd July 1974 (19.30):
Dutch flag Holland 2 Brazil 0 Brazilian flag
Scorers -
Neeskens Cruyff
50 mins 65 mins

Teams -
  8 Jongbloed  
20 Suurbier   17 Rijsbergen   2 Haan   12 Krol
  6 Jansen   13 Neeskens   3 Van Hanegem  
  16 Rep   14 Cruyff   15 Rensenbrink  

  11 Paulo César Lima   7 Jairzinho  
10 Rivelino   21 Dirceu   17 Paulo César Carpegiani   13 Valdomiro
6 Marinho Chagas   3 Marinho Peres   2 Pereira   4 Zé Maria
  1 Leão  

Substitutes -
19 Mirandinha for 11 Paulo César Lima 62 mins
7 De Jong for 15 Rensenbrink 67 mins
5 Israël for 13 Neeskens 84 mins
Unused Dutch Substitutes -
1 Geels 10 R. Van de Kerkhof 18 Schrijvers

Cautioned - Pereira Zé Maria Rep
Sent Off - Pereira

Dortmund Westphalia Stadium Referee - Kurt Tschenscher (W.Germany).
Linesmen - Davidson (Scotland), Suppiah (Senegal).
Venue - Westphalia Stadium, Dortmund.
Attendance 53,700.



  This was an epochal game, for at least one young man watching at home in England. I'd been brought up to think of the Brazilians as something special, as a football team head and shoulders above all others. The generation before mine had put them on a pedestal, due to the World Cup wins of 1958 and 1962, and had regarded their being kicked out of the 1966 tournament as nothing less than a crime. In 1970, with the British press going bonkers about England's chances of winning in Mexico, it had come as no surprise to find that Brazil had been better, but the margin of their superiority over not only England but everyone else in the world had shocked the entire planet.

  And yet, by 1974, the mantle had slipped more than somewhat. Aware of - perhaps obsessed by - what had happened to them in England in 1966, the Brazil team of this era (which still included Jairzinho and Rivelino from the class of 1970) is most often remembered in Britain for the brutality of their Group 2 game against Scotland. Maybe this might have been a one-off, we all thought, but, by the end of the second phase, it was clear that this Brazil side, in addition to not being anywhere near the equals of their predecessors in footballing terms, were also a rather unpleasant team to play against, or even to watch. Most disconcertingly, they even took the field for this game in rather ugly-looking dark blue shirts, giving further vent to the feeling that, in 1974, this somehow wasn't quite the real Brazil, not the Brazil of Pelé, Tostão and Gerson, of The Beautiful Game. I'd never seen them play in anything but the famous yellow shirts - maybe I'd imagined there was some rule that said Brazil always wore yellow no matter against whom they were playing.



Line-up v Brazil.

Line-up against Brazil.
Cruyff, Jongbloed, Haan, Rensenbrink, Rijsbergen, Rep,
Suurbier, Jansen, Van Hanegem, Krol, Neeskens.

  In keeping with FIFA's obsession with tampering with kits, Holland also changed their shirts, into white (though they kept their orange socks), and managed to look even cooler in white than they did in orange. Inevitably.


Group A Table (after 2 games).
  P W D L F A Pts
Holland 2 2 0 0 6 0 4
Brazil 2 2 0 0 3 1 4
East Germany 2 0 0 2 0 3 0
Argentina 2 0 0 2 1 6 0

Cruyff looking rather cooler than a Brazilian defender
  With Holland needing only a draw to reach the Final (on goal difference), the game was fierce and competitive, the first half a catalogue of savage fouls, largely unpunished by the thoroughly uninvolved referee, and other than that notable only for a series of missed chances.

  Both sides had their moments in the tense opening period: Zé Maria failed to deal with an early cross, and the ball dropped invitingly to Cruyff, whose snapshot was saved well by Leão; Neeskens took the ball off a defender, but shot wide. Brazil's attacks were perhaps rather more incisive: Valdomiro rounded Haan, Jongbloed flapped at the ball, and was relieved to see it ricochet to safety after being half-blocked by Krol; but Jongbloed dealt more convincingly at the near post with his next challenge, a long-range shot from Valdomiro.

  Holland relied on their offside trap even more than in previous games, but the World Champions had been well briefed, and opened the defence up rather too often. Dirceu put Paulo César Lima through, to shoot wide with Jongbloed beaten.
Rijsbergen goes to ground

  The game was rough and tough right from the start. Van Hanegem found Suurbier in a good position on the left. The shot was saved at the near post, before Suurbier's admittedly late challenge on Pereira provoked a savage kick from the Brazilian defender. On the next Dutch attack, Rep, having been balked off the ball, decided to run into Pereira for no good reason other than to further ruffle the Brazilian feathers. As the action moved upfield, Krol fouled Valdomiro, and nearly incited an international incident. The referee had lost control of the game early, and never looked like regaining it.
Can't actually tell which Dutch player is the victim of this eye-watering tackle, but I bet it still hurts today

  Suurbier crossed from the right, and Rensenbrink volleyed on target, Leão equal to his task again, but there was little football getting played now, as the conflict settled into a war of attrition. Jansen created a goalscoring chance for Cruyff, who was comically rugby tackled by Zé Maria, the Brazilian right-back being cautioned. At a Dutch free-kick, Neeskens challenged Marinho Peres (referred to as "Mario Marinho" by British commentators) with his feet undoubtedly high, but what followed was out of all proportion to the Dutchman's misdemeanour. As the players trundled down the other end, the Brazilian captain elbowed him full in the face, knocking him to the ground, where he remained unmoving for a long time. That the referee didn't see this despicable foul may have been understandable, but for the linesman to miss it (or to neglect to inform the referee about it) was disgraceful. Players milled about everywhere in time-honoured football fashion, Brazilians (other than Peres) affecting concern for the stricken Neeskens, Dutchmen wandering up, demonstrating to the referee what had happened, and perhaps suggesting what might happen if no action was forthcoming, while Cruyff, ever the diplomat, did a far better job of restoring order than the overwhelmed match officials. After a lengthy hiatus, Neeskens got back to his feet, looking shocked and shaken. As soon as the game restarted, of course, he was throwing himself into tackles with a vengeance, as ever, which seemed to upset Brazil even more. Shortly after this, Jansen was cynically and brutally taken out by Peres's shoulder as he closed in on the Brazilian goal, with the referee still frozen into inaction. On the half-time whistle, Peres picked up the ball and ran down the tunnel as if he feared for his life!



  As the second period wore on, though, it became increasingly evident that Holland were far stronger, far more determined, and, if calling them more disciplined wouldn't be quite accurate, at least they were far less indisciplined than their opponents. One of the myths about this Dutch team was that they weren't quite up to the physical side of the game, but tonight, once Brazil had started the rough stuff, it was returned with interest. There is one illuminating close-up video clip in existence of Rivelino raising his knee to Rep as the players pass. The choirboy-faced Rep waits his chance, when the Brazilian's (and the referee's) back is turned, and calmly elbows him in the face. All this happens while the ball is bouncing from one end to the other, without coming near to either player. There had been other examples before in this tournament of the Dutch players offering proof that cynical, off-the-ball fouls and brilliant football skills are not incompatible. Neeskens's assailant Marinho Peres, for example, unaccountably ended the game with a gashed ankle, the accident which caused this wound going unnoticed by any camera. The Dutch met fire with fire: if they hadn't they'd have been burned.



  The first Dutch goal, early in the second half, was a gem. Rijsbergen, tackling harder than most even in this game, took Jarizinho's ankle, greatly to the Brazilian's displeasure. A minute later, Jairzinho went in on Rijsbergen with only one thought on his mind, and duly conceded a free-kick. Van Hanegem took the kick quickly, deep inside his own half, to Neeskens, who played the ball out to Cruyff on the right. Cruyff measured to perfection the chip into the box, onto the exact blade of grass where the onrushing Neeskens wanted it, but Neeskens still did brilliantly to meet the ball at exactly the right weight and exactly the right angle to float it over the advancing Brazilian goalkeeper, most of whose team-mates were stood around at the other end, arguing about the free-kick. An extraordinary, inspired and memorable goal, and it led to a exuberant celebration.
Neeskens and Cruyff celebrating (thanks, Baz)

  Neeskens, having now recovered fully from his first half tribulations, sent in a long shot after a corner: it reared up off the turf at Leão, but the alert goalkeeper saw it all the way. At the other end, Jairzinho slipped past the Dutch defence at a free-kick, to fall into what was now a rather more effective offside trap. He also whacked Rijsbergen again right in front of the referee, who incredibly still could not summon the courage to even caution such a persistent offender. Brazil brought on Mirandinha for Paulo César Lima, as they fought to retain their hold on the World Cup, but still made little impression on the stern and well-drilled Dutch defence. Although a deep cross from the left by Marinho Chagas (wrongly named "Francisco Marinho" on British TV) was fisted away by Jongbloed, the opportunities for Brazil were now few and far between.

  Pereira ran through the Dutch defence, but was flagged offside, whereupon he picked up the ball and ranted at the referee. From the briskly-taken free-kick, while the Brazilians still argued fatuously, Van Hanegem put Cruyff clear of the Brazilian defence. The linesman's flag quickly went up for this too, but Cruyff, ever the cool one, chipped the ball into the Brazilian net from 40 yards, just to remind his opponents what they were up against. For me, this exchange summed the game up perfectly.

The second Dutch goal
  The second Dutch goal left a certain impression on the memory too. Krol found Rensenbrink in space down the left. He turned, as the Brazilians appealed again for offside, and laid the ball into the path of Krol, who sprinted down the wing. Cruyff met the cross perfectly to beat the goalkeeper from close range, somehow hitting it hard and true with his right foot when it appeared he'd have to use his left. Rensenbrink, however, pulled up injured after this move, to be replaced by Theo de Jong as Holland decided to close the game down a bit.


The second Dutch goal was so good, it's worth seeing twice
  The reigning world champions were beaten, as far as the football went, but still had time to surrender what was left of their dignity. Their willingness to dish out fouls was not matched by their ability to take punishment in return: every time a Dutchman committed an offence, a Brazilian crashed to earth and rolled about until play moved on, when he quickly recovered.

  For those who had witnessed the joyful, carefree Brazil team of 1970, this game ended up a truly dispiriting spectacle. Valdomiro stamped at Krol, then Rivelino (not exactly a pale shadow of the player he'd been in 1970, more a dark shadow) clattered Cruyff, and was in turn fouled by Rep, who was cautioned. Valdomiro had another nibble at Krol's ankles. A clever pass by De Jong, quickly adjusting to the pace and temperature of the game, found Rep running at goals, to be taken out again by Marinho Peres. Suurbier fouled Marinho Chagas from behind, and was studded in the face by the Brazilian full-back for his pains: during the ensuing melée, Neeskens (inevitably!) was kicked to the ground by Valdomiro, with the referee of course unsighted. Cruyff set off on another through run, Peres couldn't even get near enough to foul him, but Paulo César Carpegiani brought him down instead, with the ball 30 yards away. Rivelino had now pretty much lost any vestige of self-control he ever had, and launched himself through the air at Cruyff, who prudently jumped out of the way, but Neeskens, following in, challenged the Brazilian along the ground, and was promptly flattened. A spate of foul and counter-foul outside the Dutch penalty area ended with Rivelino bouncing off Haan, and throwing himself to the ground. Of course, he won a free-kick, but blazed it just wide of the goal, though Jongbloed would probably tell you he had it covered.

  Luís Pereira finally managed to get himself sent off, for an alehouse challenge on Neeskens, waist-high, studs first, and so late it might have been early for next time.
Four years on from those memorable goals in the 1970 Final, this was how Brazil's reign as world champions came to an unlamented end

  Pereira stood around for a long time before he could be persuaded to quit the field, pausing even then for a slanging match with the Dutch supporters and the bench. Once he saw Israël was getting stripped for action though, he decided to get down the tunnel quickly! Neeskens would take no further part in the game, and Michels brought on another defender to see out the last few minutes. Sadly, this would be Israël's last international appearance.

  The contest wasn't quite over. Marinho Chagas flicked the ball over the defence, and Jongbloed, hitherto confidence itself, fumbled nervously as he tried to collect the ball. Chagas writhed in agony for a while after the "challenge", but the referee was not impressed. Israël, always keen to make a new friend, found Mirandinha keener on talking to him than he was on playing football: a contemptuous shrug of the Dutchman's broad shoulders was all he got for his efforts at provoking a confrontation. With the game increasingly confused, Brazil had Wilson Piazza warming up for the last few minutes, but it doesn't appear he got on the field, Holland's possession football ensuring the ball didn't go out of play for long intervals. In the dying minutes, Jairzinho even managed to foul the utterly inoffensive Jongbloed, hacking the goalkeeper's ankles as he ambled out to clear another speculative through ball. The crowd, strongly pro-Holland of course, were so incensed after this one they refused to return the ball, even when Cruyff intervened, and another had to be found. At this point, the referee decided to blow the whistle. There were few handshakes as the players trooped off.

  This had been an intense, passionate, pivotal game, with, it seemed, the old world order swept away by the new, the favourite team of the previous generation turned sour and being blown away by the exciting champions of my own experience. Or so it seemed at the time.

Dutch players and substitutes celebrate at the final whistle
  Brazil would of course recover in time, to be a brilliant, spectacular and, above all, loved team again, but I could never think of them in quite the same way after this game.


Group A Table.
  P W D L F A Pts
Holland 3 3 0 0 8 0 6
Brazil 2 2 0 1 3 3 4
East Germany 2 0 1 2 1 4 1
Argentina 2 0 1 2 2 7 1

Holland qualify for Final v West Germany; Brazil for Third-Place Play-Off v Poland.


  For completeness, a quick note on the Brazilian players' full names: 1 Emerson Leão, 2 Luís Edmundo Pereira, 3 Mario Marinho Peres, 4 José Maria Rodrigues Alves, 6 Francisco Marinho das Chagas, 7 Jair Ventura Filho, 10 Roberto Rivelino, 11 Paulo César Lima (now Caju), 13 Valdomiro Vaz Franco, 17 Paulo César Carpegiani, 19 Sebastião Miranda Silva Filho, 21 José Dirceu Guimarães. Hope I've got them all right!



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