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Netherlands-Brazil Preview

AP - Sports

(AP) -- - Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari and his players are trying to put the devastating World Cup semifinal loss to Germany behind them as quickly as possible, turning their focus to Saturday's third-place match against the Netherlands.

For the Dutch, a tournament that began so brightly will end with a game their coach thinks is pointless and which the squad isn't really interested in playing.

Scolari on Wednesday said they have to find a way to move on, and the team already has a new objective: win Saturday to give fans some reason to celebrate.

''Life goes on, we need to look forward to our next goal, and our next goal is to win the match for third place,'' Scolari said. ''We have to play it. It has become our main goal.''

The veteran coach said he knows the 7-1 result against Germany is going to hurt forever, but stressed that a ''bad loss'' can't erase what he considered was an otherwise good campaign by the national team.

Scolari said it was his job to ensure the players get past ''this horrible feeling'' that overwhelmed them after the loss to Germany.

''The players' lives won't end because of this loss. It happened and from now on they will continue being the players that they are,'' Scolari said. ''They will continue playing for Brazil and we will continue to be one of the best teams in the world. Probably many of these players will play for Brazil in 2018.''

Scolari said it's important to put into perspective Tuesday's loss, the team's worst in its 100-year history, matching the margin of a 6-0 defeat to Uruguay in 1920.

''Because of the score and the high number of goals, we know the loss will go down in history,'' Scolari said. ''But it also has to go down in history that it's the first time since 2002 that we made it to the semifinals. Our work wasn't bad, it was just a bad loss.''

The Netherlands' semifinal loss was also painful. It came in a penalty shootout to Argentina, ensuring another missed opportunity for the men in the vibrant orange shirts.

''They can keep it,'' forward Arjen Robben said of the third-place game. ''Only one prize counts and that is becoming world champion.''

A month ago, the Dutch were flying high. A 5-1 win over world champion Spain announced them as the team to watch at the World Cup. That status faded gradually and the Netherlands only managed two goals in three games in the knockout stage, none in the quarterfinals and semifinals.

The elimination Wednesday night means the crucial Dutch stats now read: Three World Cup finals, two semifinals, still no titles.

Coach Louis van Gaal, who takes charge of his country one more time before moving on to a new challenge with Manchester United, acknowledged that his team had initially been praised as the best at the tournament. Yet it counted for nothing in the end.

''In general, I'm not really interested in what people say about me and my team,'' Van Gaal said following the semifinal defeat. ''It's a good thing if people are very positive ... but the issue in a championship like this one is that you score one more goal than your opponent, which we didn't do.''

Van Gaal will also get very little joy from his last game with the national team. He has campaigned for a decade to have the third-place playoff at the World Cup scrapped, he said, because it is meaningless and a drain on players who are already desperately disappointed.

''I think that this match should never be played,'' Van Gaal said. ''I've been saying this for 10 years. But anyway, we will just have to play that match.''

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