Netherlands vs. Brazil Possession Visualization


Following up on the visualization of Brazil/Germany’s semifinal match, I again calculated what I define as “Real Possession” for the Netherlands/Brazil 3rd place match. Go read that post for more on how I define possession or control.

You can see in the image above how the game played out over time in terms of possession. Click here for the high resolution version. You’ll quickly note that Brazil was dominant, holding control for several long periods of time. But that doesn’t mean they always had the ball at their feet.

From the start, Brazil actual had trouble getting the ball back from the Netherlands. Before they could even complete a single pass, Van Persie had played Robben into the box and Silva had yanked him down for the early penalty which RVP converted.

Later, however, after the 2nd Dutch goal, Brazil controlled the flow of the match for 4.5 minutes as the Dutch failed to regain control. This would actually become a theme, and here’s why. Brazil were not simply keeping possession at their feet, they were attacking and getting chances on net, but the Netherlands failed on many occasions to establish possession from goal kicks, throw ins, and long boots from the keeper.

Rather than roll the ball to his back line, Jasper Cillessen continually chose to boot the ball downfield whenever he got the ball at his feet or hands in open play. Same with goal kicks. During these long periods of Brazilian control, the Dutch players failed to grab control of these long kicks by Cillessen, keeping control with Brazil. The same happened on throw-ins the Dutch won, they just went right back to Brazil in some cases.

Brazil control was also interrupted by 4 injury breaks that totaled roughly 5.5 minutes of gameplay. But even with these extra minutes figured in, Brazil still dominated control of this match.

During a 5:23 patch of time around the 62nd minute, Brazil kept control thanks to several goal kicks, keeper boots and throw-ins which the Dutch gave right back to them without gaining control. Granted this was a “whatever” 3rd place match and the Dutch already had a 2-0 lead – they can be forgiven for just booting the ball downfield, but their inability to regain control is interesting to note. Here are the detailed numbers.


In the end this chart is a perfect example of “it’s not how much you have the ball, it’s what you do with it when you have it.” Brazil maintained control over 2/3 of this match, but the Netherlands made better use of their third.


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