2 July 2010. A time when footballs had a mind of their own and vuvuzelas were forcing us all to watch matches on mute. 

​That's right. The 2010 World Cup was upon us, and the entire planet was gripped by football fever once again. Among the front runners for the trophy were all the usual suspects, including Brazil. 

The group stages saw a couple of huge shocks, as the 2006 champions and losing finalists Italy and France both crashed out, finishing bottom of their table. 

The other heavyweights progressed nicely though, and few surprises in the Round of 16 led to a set of mouth-watering quarter-final ties. One of those much anticipated clashes, was Netherlands versus Brazil. And this is how it unfolded. 

Netherlands received an early scare when Robinho tapped home in the opening minutes, but his goal was ruled out for offside. The Dutch had to learn their lesson from that close call.

Brazil's striker Robinho celebrates afte

They didn't. Robinho broke the deadlock only a matter of minutes later, when Felipe Melo fizzed a defence-splitting ball through the Netherlands backline, and the Brazilian forward fired home first time to give the favourites the lead. 

The Seleção should have doubled their lead on 25 minutes, when Juan fired high and wide following some excellent buildup play by Dani Alves. 

​Kaka almost notched a second with a curling effort, but 
Maarten Stekelenburg somehow clawed the shot away from the top corner. The first half came to a close with Brazil well on top, and with Netherlands failing to create any chance of note. 

Netherlands' national football team play

​Brazil started the second half quickly, but they were rocked on 53 minutes, when Melo flicked a header beyond Julio Cesar and into his own net. Things went from bad to worse for the Seleção 15 minutes later, when Arjen Robben's corner was nodded home by Wesley Sneijder. Delirium in Holland. 

The game then spiralled out of control for the FIFA ranked number one side, when Melo capped off a miserable display by earning a red card for a reckless stamp on Robben. 

Brazil pushed to get back into the match, but they failed to break down a stubborn Holland side, and the Dutch pulled off the shock of the tournament by seeing out the 2-1 win, and progressing to the semi-finals. 


Key Talking Point 

Netherlands' display against Brazil summed up their entire tournament in 90 minutes. This Dutch side was far from its best, and there were some very clear deficiencies throughout the team. The goalkeeper and defence boasted some average names, and they struggled to create many clear opportunities. 

Netherlands' midfielder Wesley Sneijder

But what Holland did have was organisation and spirit in abundance, and a coach who drilled them to devastating effect. Bert van Marwijk squeezed every drop out of this team, building a solid defensive base, and using Robben as their not-so-secret weapon on the break. 

Even though they fell behind in this match, Netherlands stuck to their task and remained compact, waiting for their chances to fall. Inevitably, they did, and they produced a typically clinical display in front of goal. Then, the Dutch drew fouls and gave them away to slow the game down, closing out the result to perfection. A stubborn side. 

Player Ratings 

Starting XI: Stekelenburg (8), Van der Wiel (7), Heitinga (8), Mathijsen (7), Ooijer (6), Van Bronckhorst (7); Van Bommel (7), De Jong (7), Robben (9), Sneijder (8), Kuyt (8); Van Persie (7) 

Substitutes: Huntelaar (6) 

Arjen Robben 

Robben put in one of the most selfless and dogged performances of his career against Brazil. In a game in which Netherlands saw very little of the ball - especially in the opening 45 minutes, Robben was a constant outlet for the Oranje - and he received some pretty rough treatment from his opposition. 


The ex-​Chelsea man's tireless running and neat dribbling skills forced Dunga into substituting left-back Michel Bastos, who simply couldn't live with the never-ending pace and power of the winger. Robben then drew the red card which ultimately put the game out of Brazil's reach, winding up Melo to the point that a stamp seemed to be the only option. 

Oh yeah, and it was his lethal deliveries which caused both goals, as the Brazil backline had no answer for his wicked crosses. What a huge performance on a huge occasion. 


Key Talking Point

How on earth did Brazil lose this match?! Dunga's men dominated the opening 45 minutes in inspiring fashion, arriving first to every ball, carving through the Dutch defence with some unstoppable buildup play, and looking resolute at the back. Then, the game turned on its head in the blink of an eye. 

Brazil's midfielder Kaka falls over Neth

Netherlands were an unfashionable side but, they used their nouse and game-management skills to frustrate Brazil, and the players became visibly upset by the number of fouls which were inflicted upon them. 

Perhaps they let their emotions get the better of them - Melo certainly did - but their second half defeat came from a lack of mental strength, as their anger boiled over and they lost the plot entirely. The second half lacked any sign of a plan or rhythm, and it proved to be a step too far for this star-studded, but fragile, Brazil side. 

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Cesar (5), Maicon (7), Lucio (6), Juan (7), Bastos (5), Alves (7); Melo (4), Silva (5), Kaka (8), Robinho (7), Fabiano (7) 

Substitutes: Gilberto (6), Nilmar (6) 


​What a sensational player Kaka was on his day. Robinho got the goal for Brazil, but Kaka was just as involved for Dunga's side. The attacking midfielder was so unlucky not to get his name on the scoresheet on a number of occasions, and his linkup play with the aforementioned Robinho and Fabiano was nothing short of superb. 

Brazil's midfielder Kaka reacts at the e

Kaka worked excellently in tight spaces, using his quick feet to flick the ball beyond defenders and into the path of his teammates, while breaking the lines nicely to run at a panicking Netherlands defence. 

An unbelievable player, and one who deserved better than a quarter-final exit. 

Things That Aged the Worst

Robinho. The Brazil star had the world at his feet, and he was sensational in that quarter-final clash with Netherlands. But Robinho failed to live up to the hype that followed his career, and his life took a dark turn when he was convicted of some pretty vile crimes relating to his time at Milan. 

Brazil's striker Robinho celebrates afte

An unsavoury end to the career of an unsavoury character. 

Things That Aged the Best

They say form is temporary, but class is permanent. And although Kaka struggled to hit the heights expected of him throughout his career, he still went on to become a football legend.

Not to mention, he's still doing the business on the amateur pitches of London, too. You can't keep a good man down. 

Player You Completely Forgot Existed

Johnny Heitinga. The Dutch defender spent five years at ​Everton and six months at Fulham, before leaving English football forever. 

John Heitinga

Heitinga provided a surprisingly sturdy presence in the Netherlands defence - alongside fellow Toffee Stekelenburg. Unsung heroes. 

What Happened Next

Goodness, this Netherlands side came close to unprecedented glory, didn't they? After shocking the Brazilians, Holland came out on top in a pulsating 3-2 victory over Uruguay, setting up a historic final with Spain. Ultimately, they fell painfully short, taking their opponents all the way to extra-time, before succumbing to a late, late Andres Iniesta winner. Heartbreak. 

Spain's midfielder Andrés Iniesta (L) ce

As for Brazil, the post-World Cup fallout saw coach Dunga lose his job. He'll be back in a few years though, don't worry. Despite all the hope and expectations surrounding the Canarinha, they are yet to lift another World Cup trophy since their 2002 success. 

 Unanswerable Questions

Why was Robinho so angry for the entire 90 minutes? 

Who invented vuvuzelas? 

Who thought vuvuzelas would be a good addition to a football stadium?