The Netherlands pulled off a shock 2-1 upset against Brazil, beating the 5-time World Champions for the first time since 1974 to advance to the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup. The heroes 36 years ago were the legendary pairing of Johan Neeskens and Johan Cruyff who powered the Dutch into the final with a 2-0 win, and perhaps the stars of today Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder may have just written their own names into Dutch folklore with an amazing come from behind win after being run ragged in the first half. Brazil took the early lead through Robinho, who slotted home after a defensive lapse by the Dutch in just the 10th minute of the game. It was one way traffic right through the first half with Brazil left to rue not putting the game to rest as the Dutch came back strongly in the second half. Defensive errors were the order of the day as an own goal from Felipe Melo and a free-header from a corner by Wesley Sneijder put the Netherlands 2-1 ahead. Brazil finished the game with 10 men with Melo sent off for stamping onÂ Arjen Robben, who created havoc down the right flank right through the second half. It was an emotional win for the Dutch in the end, and an unfortunate exit for the Samba Kings, but in truth on the night they were probably their own worst enemies.
The Netherlands were forced into making one late change in their starting eleven for this big game with 35-year old center-back Andre Ooijer coming in for his first game of the tournament in place of Joris Mathijsen, who had injured his knee in the warm-up, a huge blow for the Dutch. The rest of the team lined-up as expected, with Robin van Persie leading the line, Arjen Robben deployed on the right wing with Dirk Kuyt on the left. Wesley Sneijder would pull the strings in the middle of the park with Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong sitting behind to protect the back four. The Dutch had as many as 7 players in the starting eleven who were carrying a yellow card into this match and needed to be a little extra careful with their tackling.