The bottom half of the World Cup draw gets underway on Monday with the Netherlands looking to break the shackles of three defensive minded wins in the group stage, taking on the conquerors of Italy, Slovakia. Brazil will be aiming to do similar, as they take on a stylish Chile side in the late game.
NETHERLANDS vs. SLOVAKIA
3.00pm – Durban Stadium
Solid and yet unspectacular has been the way of things for Bert van Marwijk’s Dutch side during the World Cup thus far, but the boss will be looking for some extra zip from his side as they attempt to overhaul Slovakia in the round of 16.
A win against Italy, during one of the games of the tournament in Group F confirmed Slovakia’s place in the knock out stage and in Robert Vittek they have a forward at the very top of his game and ready to create an upset. He scored twice against Italy and will be looking to break down a stern Netherlands defence, a characteristic not becoming of previous Dutch sides.
A lack of flair, usually produced by Arjen Robben, has resulted in a number of rather solid, methodical performances from Netherlands and the winger is again likely to be overlooked despite him protesting his fitness. Zdenko Strba will be missing for Vladimir Weiss’ side who will be looking to continue their fairytale World Cup.
BRAZIL vs. CHILE
7.30pm – Ellis Park, Johanessburg
It might only take a glimpse of footage of the 1970 World Cup final to remember the old Brazilian sides who played with flair and imagination, but during these finals supporters have had to look slightly harder to find the real Brazil as Dunga appears to have sucked any creative power from their soul.
Their willingness to attack with seemingly no defensive responsibility was the hallmark of each of the Brazil’s previous World Cup wins, but they have seemed devoid of such license in South Africa. Chile have mirrored Brazil’s performances during those five world cup wins with some of the more expansive football we have seen during these finals, but as they proved against Spain they firmly lack a plan B when up against it.
Elano, Robinho and Kaka will all return to the Brazil side after relative injuries and suspensions, while Marco Estrada, Waldo Ponce and Gary Medel all miss out due to suspension and the void left by that trio could be crucial in the final outcome. There is sure to be some flair from both sides in this encounter, but where the substance comes from in the final third is likely to decide this tasty last-16 match.