Van Marwijk: We have to adapt

Bert van Marwijk insists teams like Holland and Brazil have had no choice but to curb their attacking instincts in the search for World Cup glory.

The heavyweights go head to head in Port Elizabeth tonight with a place in the semi-finals at stake and with both facing criticism for adopting more pragmatic approaches than they have done in the past.

Johan Cruyff has said he would not pay to watch the current crop of Brazilians but Dutch coach Van Marwijk believes the changing face of the game in general means they have had to adapt.

He said: “In Holland, we have a little bit the same problem. Thirty years ago, it was ’Total Football’.

“But sport changes and football changes also. Now, everybody is getting fitter and better organised, so when you play like we used to, it’s more difficult to win the World Cup.

“I can understand Brazil – but still, they can play football very well, and we are the same.

“But there’s a difference between good football and attractive football. We really want to play well, but it can’t always be attractive.

“A match with lots of goals is always more attractive than a match without goals.”

Opposite number Dunga has given his side a defensive steel it has perhaps lacked in the past, but with the likes of Kaka, Luis Fabiano and Robinho in attack and full-back Maicon always ready to join in, he has enviable flair at his disposal.

However, he knows the shape of today’s game will be dictated in part by the way Holland set up against his team.

Dunga said: “It has a lot to do with the way Holland react, but quite clearly, when both teams are on the offensive, the quality of the play is much better.

“If you have 20 players in one half of the field, it’s more difficult for there to be goals.

“But if those 20 players are spread out over the field, yes, there are going to be more goals.

“We would like it to be an open game – then it will be a beautiful game.

“The games are becoming more difficult, more technical in nature, but I believe the spectators will see a very exciting game.”

Brazil midfielder Elano has been ruled out with an ankle injury, while Ramires is suspended, although Felipe Melo is expected to be fit.

But both managers will hope the pitch is in better shape than it has been for recent games with groundstaff having worked tirelessly on the playing surface since it was last used for the Uruguay v South Korea game on Saturday.

Dunga said: “It is important that the pitch allows the players to demonstrate their maximum potential.

“We hope that the pitch will allow both teams to provide a beautiful spectacle of football.”

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