Having decided to watch Brazil vs. Netherlands I was intrigued by the idea of looking at players on either side who have been linked to a summer move to Chelsea: Neymar and Gregory van der Wiel. This is my report on their performances.
Most of van der Wiel’s work was being done in his own half dealing with Neymar. The trickery and pace of the young Brazillian were clearly of concern for the Netherlands; they were doubling up on him with Nigel de Jong coming to the full back's aid. However on a couple of occasions Neymar managed to get the better of both Dutchmen.
In the first a cross came in from the right that evaded Fred and looked simple for van der Wiel to deal with, but he let the ball bounce and Neymar got it. He attempted to get in on goal but Van der Wiel was able to get back and tackle him, putting it behind for a corner just as Neymar looked to pull it back.
The second was about ten yards inside the Dutch half when Neymar played a one-two which drew can der Wiel towards the ball and with the full length of the pitch behind him van der Wiel made a desperate attempt to tackle Neymar. He tried to lift it over the defender but was caught and went down, leaving Van der Wiel with a deserved booking.
Neymar was being fairly disciplined in sticking to the left hand side but sometimes drifted inside and on one occasion he drew the left back inside to him and was able to slip a ball to Robinho (who rather than elect to shoot played a square pass for Ramires to put in only for Robinho to be flagged offside). Whilst the most of his work in the first half has been in a defensive role in order to contain Neymar, van der Wiel ventured into Brazil’s half on a couple of occasions. He didn't make much of an impact in an attacking sense.
Within fifty seconds of the restart Robinho picked up a ball on the right and looked up to see Neymar make a run across the box. The resultant ball was weighted perfectly and the run was timed to perfection, allowing Neymar to have a shot on goal from nine yards out which Tim Krul in goal saved well. Neymar got a a second's head start on van der Wiel who tried in vain to track his run and stop him shooting.
Four minutes later Neymar was in the box on the left and after a couple of stepsovers shimmied inside of Van der Wiel, allowing him to get an admittedly tame shot off on goal which Krul easily saved. At this point it looked like only one man was going to score, Neymar, but whilst he had tested Krul a couple of times earlier on in the second half it wouldn’t be until 70th minute that he would test him again.
When Dani Alves got space on the right and put a cross into the box, Neymar was there to meet on the volley. The ball was struck sweetly, but the shot was straight at Krul. After Ramires received his 2nd yellow for a hack on Arjen Robben, the game petered out a bit with van der Wiel replaced by former Chelsea player Khalid Boulahrouz on the 85th minute mark. Neymar's last contribution was to pick the ball up on the right go past one Dutch defender and squeeze the ball through two other players, however Neymar went to ground and received a booking for what was a poor dive.
Full Time Report
Van der Wiel didn’t really have a chance to show in this match what he is capable of as much of the game was spent in his own half dealing mainly with Neymar. Having not seen much of him and hearing him being called an attacking fullback I was fully expecting him to be poor defensively and apart from the two misjudgements in the first half he was solid.
The attacking instincts he posses were not on show in this match I firmly believe that this was a tactic employed by Bert Van Marwijk to deal with the threat posed by Neymar as well as the fact that in front of him; he had Arjen Robben who isn’t known for his tracking back. On the evidence of this game alone he looks solid defensively but his attacking talents were not on show so I cannot comment on them from this game.
Neymar looked lively and contributed to some of the game's better moments. What was a surprise to me was that he was playing on the left and stuck out to the left for much of the game. However, when drifting inside he did make his best contribution of the first half with the disallowed goal. His best moment of the whole game came when he had his chance inside the first sixty seconds of the second half; the run he made was brilliant allowing him to get away from Van der Wiel who had been closely marking him and find the space to get a shot on goal.
One sour point for me in his performance was the dive. I had heard about this side of his game and that he would go down too easily and it was clear from this game that he does go down easy which in the Premier League would not be tolerated. His performance though was the highlight of the game and while he didn’t get on the score sheet he looked lively. My concerns regarding his potential for signing for Chelsea would be his going down too easily, which would cost him in the Premier League, but playing in a unfamiliar role he looked comfortable and confident.