JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Netherlands should finally be able to show off their true style when they face top ranked Brazil in the World Cup quarter-finals, winger Ryan Babel said on Tuesday after growing criticism back home of dull play.
The Dutch, despite winning all four games they have played in the tournament, have been criticised by fans and media for not showing their usual attacking flair.
Babel said the main focus was winning and the team’s lack of flair was more about their opponents than them. This should change in Friday’s game against free-scoring Brazil at the Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg.
“I think it is always difficult to play against teams that don’t want to play football, who are waiting for you,” Babel said a day after Netherlands beat Slovakia 2-1 in the last 16.
“We play our better games against teams that want to play football as well and, on Friday, Brazil is not going to wait so maybe we can play better than yesterday.”
An early strike by winger Arjen Robben, in his first start after injury, set Netherlands on their way and Wesley Sneijder slotted a second before a late consolation goal for Slovakia.
Netherlands topped Group E after wins against Denmark, Japan and Cameroon.
Babel said the team was not paying attention to critics.
“We don’t really take any interest in that kind of criticism. At the end when we win the tournament, nobody will talk about the style of football that we have been using.”
Coach Bert van Marwijk said five-time champions Brazil would be quick to punish any mistakes “so it’s really important to not lose the ball, let’s say, in the axis of the field.”
Brazil are also unbeaten so far in South Africa, crushing their first knockout round opponent Chile 3-0 on Monday.
Reporting by Gordon Bell, Editing by Nigel Hunt