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Van Gaal ‘slams’ 3rd-4th place playoff as pointless Neymar to join Brazil for play-off

SAO PAULO, July 10, (Agencies): The Netherlands will face Brazil in Saturday’s third-fourth place play-off but it is not a match the Dutch want to play, with coach Louis van Gaal saying it was a pointless exercise that “has nothing to do with sports.” “I think this match should never be played and I’ve been saying this for 10 years,” Van Gaal said after his team were knocked out by Argentina on penalties. “It is unfair we have one day less to recover than our opponent so that is not fair play either,” he added. “But the worst thing is I believe that chances are that you lose twice in a row. And a tournament in which you’ve played so marvelously well you would go home as a loser just because you could possibly have lost the last two matches and this has got nothing to do with sports in my view.” “So, in a football tournament particularly not at the last stage you shouldn’t have players playing match for third-fourth place. Because there is only one award that counts and that is becoming world champion.” The Netherlands will face host nation Brazil, who were hammered 7-1 by Germany in the other semi on Tuesday. The match will take place in the capital Brasilia. Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari and his players are trying to put the devastating semifinal loss to Germany behind them as quickly as possible, turning their focus to the farewell match at their home World Cup.

Scolari on Wednesday said they have to find a way to move on, and the team already has a new objective: win the third-place game Saturday to give fans some reason to celebrate. “Life goes on, we need to look forward to our next goal, and our next goal is to win the match for third place,” Scolari said. “We have to play it. It has become our main goal.” The veteran coach said he knows the 7-1 result against Germany is going to hurt forever, but stressed that a “bad loss” can’t erase what he considered was an otherwise good campaign by the national team. Scolari said it was his job to ensure the players get past “this horrible feeling” that overwhelmed them after the loss to Germany. “The players’ lives won’t end because of this loss. It happened and from now on they will continue being the players that they are,” Scolari said. “They will continue playing for Brazil and we will continue to be one of the best teams in the world. Probably many of these players will play for Brazil in 2018.” Only a few fans were waiting for the  national team at its training camp outside Rio de Janeiro early Tuesday, including one who carried a banner reading “Shame.” Some fans booed as the bus carrying the squad left Rio’s airport. “We have to be professional and we have to show our character,” midfielder Fernandinho said. “We need to get through these three days and play well on Saturday to try to finish third.” Scolari said it’s important to put into perspective Tuesday’s loss, the team’s worst in its 100-year history, matching the margin of a 6-0 defeat to Uruguay in 1920. “Because of the score and the high number of goals, we know the loss will go down in history,” Scolari said. “But it also has to go down in history that it’s the first time since 2002 that we made it to the semifinals.

Our work wasn’t bad, it was just a bad loss.” Scolari blamed a “six-minute disaster” in which Germany scored four goals in the first half. The 2002 World Cup-winning coach returned to the command of the Brazilian national squad late in 2012. In 28 matches, he won 19, drew six and lost three, including Tuesday’s match. Scolari is not expected to remain as Brazil coach, but he said that any decision about his future won’t be made until after the tournament. “Our commitment is valid until the end of the World Cup,” he said, adding that after the tournament “we will probably talk to the directors of the (Brazilian football confederation), give them a report of what was done and how it was done, and then a decision will be made.” “The president of the CBF will decide what is going to happen.”

Meanwhile, injured striker Neymar will attend Saturday’s third place playoff. Neymar’s absence dominated the build-up to Tuesday’s humiliation. The Barcelona striker missed out after fracturing a vertebrae in the quarter-final win over Colombia. “Neymar will come here (to Brazil’s World Cup base), he’s going to accompany the team to Saturday’s match,” confirmed Brazil football federation spokesman Rodrigo Paiva to R7.com. Paiva announced the news at Brazil’s World Cup headquarters in Teresopolis, near Rio de Janeiro. Medics meanwhile from the superstar striker’s Barcelona club visited him at his home to check up on his injury. A statement on Barcelona’s website reported: “FC Barcelona’s Medical Services visited Neymar Jr at the player’s home in Brazil this week.

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