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Netherlands v Brazil

Van Marwijk defends Dunga's style

July 2, 2010
By Soccernet staff

Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk has sided with his opposite number Dunga after Dutch legend Johan Cruyff criticised Brazil's conservative playing style.

Bert van Marwijk, Netherlands
GettyImagesBert van Marwijk prepares his men to stifle Dunga's Brazil

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Forum: Who's playing the best football?

Cruyff said he would not pay to see the current Brazil team, who Dunga has shaped into a more functional unit than the flashy sides of past World Cups, but van Marwijk said he "can understand" Brazil's approach and that the Netherlands too have had to evolve their style to suit modern football.

The heavyweights go head to head in Port Elizabeth on Friday night with a place in the semi-finals at stake, and while it looks on paper to be this World Cup's most tantalising match-up to date, both coaches have warned fans to expect something closer to a chess match than an end-to-end basketball affair.

Van Marwijk said of Cruyff's criticisms: "In Holland, we have a little bit the same problem. Thirty years ago, it was 'Total Football'. But sport changes and football changes also. Now, everybody is getting fitter and better organised, so when you play like we used to, it's more difficult to win the World Cup.

"I can understand Brazil - but still, they can play football very well, and we are the same. But there's a difference between good football and attractive football. We really want to play well, but it can't always be attractive. A match with lots of goals is always more attractive than a match without goals.''

Dunga insisted the ball is in van Marwijk's court in terms of how much entertainment will be on offer, warning that a containment strategy from the Dutch could result in a dour affair.

Dunga said: "It has a lot to do with the way Holland react, but quite clearly, when both teams are on the offensive, the quality of the play is much better. If you have 20 players in one half of the field, it's more difficult for there to be goals. But if those 20 players are spread out over the field, yes, there are going to be more goals. We would like it to be an open game - then it will be a beautiful game. The games are becoming more difficult, more technical in nature, but I believe the spectators will see a very exciting game.''

Brazil midfielder Elano has been ruled out with an ankle injury, while Ramires is suspended, although Felipe Melo is expected to be fit.

Both managers will hope the pitch is in better shape than it has been for recent games with groundstaff having worked tirelessly on the playing surface since it was last used for the Uruguay v South Korea game on Saturday.

Dunga said: "It is important that the pitch allows the players to demonstrate their maximum potential. We hope that the pitch will allow both teams to provide a beautiful spectacle of football.''