BRAZIL VS. NETHERLANDS
Where: Brasilia. Time: 1 p.m. PDT.
TV: ESPN, Univision.
The buzz: It's a game the Dutch don't want to play and one the Brazilians think they must win. That's pretty much all you need to know about Saturday's World Cup consolation game between the two semifinal losers. Louis van Gaal, coach of the Netherlands, has been campaigning for at least a decade to have the third-place game thrown out of the World Cup. "You shouldn't have teams playing for third and fourth place," he said. The Dutch team is coming off consecutive overtime games that were decided in penalty-kick shootouts. The Netherlands won the first, over Costa Rica, before falling to Argentina in the semifinals. Now Van Gaal faces the challenge of rallying his exhausted players for a game no one really cares about. He may field a team of backups as a way of rewarding his regulars with rest and rewarding his bench players with a lengthy World Cup appearance. It would be an especially gracious move if he used reserve goalkeeper Michel Vorm, the only member of his 23-player roster who hasn't played in this tournament. But this will be serious business for the Brazilians, who need to erase the strain of their 7-1 loss to Germany in Tuesday's semifinal. This was to be Brazil's World Cup, and the national team can't afford to have it end with consecutive losses. The Brazil defense, which gave up four goals in a six-minute span of the first half against Germany, will be helped by the return of captain Thiago Silva.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times