FIFA World Cup 2010 Round of 16: Day 3 Preview

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FIFA World Cup 2010 Round of 16: Day 3 Preview
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images
Monday June 28th

       Holland v Slovakia


     Durban, 3pm (Irish Time)

The Netherlands are one of only two teams to go through the group stages three for three, the other being Argentina. The fact that they managed to do so without truly showing their hand will give them even greater confidence going into their second round meeting with Slovakia.

Prior to the tournament the Dutch would have predicted a last 16 meeting with the Eastern Europeans but only a weeks ago surely they expected it to be Italy. They will be thankful that it is not the world champions who stand in their way, but Slovakia still pose a threat if their performance against the Azzurri is anything to go by.

After two dismally dull showings against New Zealand and Paraguay the Slovaks finally came out and played when they had to. They were first to every ball and much sharper against Italy. Their talented midfielders Marek Hamsik, Wladimir Weiss, and Miroslav Stoch, were finally playing to their true ability rather than playing in a straight jacket as they had done. Not only did they outplay Italy but they showed they could score and cleverly created goals, most notably the third from a quick throw in.

With renewed confidence on show in the Slovak camp, the Oranje will need to raise their game if they're to reach the quarter finals for the first time since 1998. A more cautious approach will no doubt be on show again from the underdogs and it will be up to Holland's midfield magicians to finally show the world what they can do.

Thus far Holland have been slow and narrow when going forward. Impact substitutions have made the biggest impression in all their games. Eljero Elia, Ibrahim Afellay and Arjen Robben have all played their part from the bench and it is almost time for Bert van Marvijk to dispense with Raphael van der Vaart for a more dynamic winger.

The defence, which was previously a worry, has stood firm but the main talking point has been the stuttering attack. Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie may not be best friends but if the two of them can finally come to life their team may know no bounds.

The history books show that only three teams have ever won all of their group games and gone on to win the trophy. Two of those came in the past 12 years however. France in 1998 and Brazil in 2002 didn't drop a point before picking up the coveted trophy. If Holland are to make it four than a comfortable victory in Durban is the best way to start.

Slovakia and Holland have never met before. The dutch are at full strenght but Robben looks likely to start from the bench again. Strba is suspended for Slovakia but the man who scored the crucial third against Italy is set to deputise, Kamil Kopunek.

Probable Teams:

Holland: Stekelenburg, Van Der Wiel, Mathijsen, Heitinga, Van Bronckhorst, De Jong, Van Bommel, Sneijder, Kuyt, Van Der Vaart, Van Persie.   

Slovakia: Mucha, Pekarik, Skrtel, Durica, Zebavnik, Kucka, Hamsik, Kopunek, Stoch, Jendrisek, Vittek.


           Brazil v Chile

Ellis Park, Johannesburg, 7:30pm

Brazil have not lost to Chile since a 2002 World Cup qualifier. That may not seem like a long time but the teams have played a host of games in the intervening period in which the Chilenos had their asses handed to them.

La Roja are rightly comended for their attack at all costs approach and it would be a blessing if other nations would follow suit but such a tactic has been their own worst enemy against the Selecao in their most recent meetings. In qualification, Chile finished a point behind Brazil and even won more games than their round of 16 opponents, but they lost their two matches with their more illustrious South American cousins.

A 3-0 away defeat and a 4-2 home reverse will not make for inspirational viewing ahead of their game in Ellis Park, a stadium Brazilians are already very familiar with from last years Confederations Cup final and this summers opener with North Korea.

In 1998 the two nations met at the same stage. A Ronaldo inspired Brazil won 4-1 but a Chile team featuring Ivan Zamorano and Marcelo Salas gave as good as they got for the majority of the game. Ultimately the superior class of the world's best player was the difference.

The fear is that a repeat may occur this year. Marcelo Bielsa already has to plan without two of his centre backs, Waldo Ponce and Gary Medel. Left sided midfielder Estrada is also suspended following his sending off against Spain. The high number of absentees is hardly surprising considering Chile have committed more fouls than any other team.   

In comparison, Brazil will welcome back Kaka, Robinho and Elano to their starting line up following their absences from the dour goalless draw with Portugal. The team in canary yellow are yet to hit their stride but it is still 29 games since their last defeat and Chile have only beaten them seven times in 65 attempts.

Whatever Chile team Bielsa puts out they will still maintain the same 3-3-1-3 shape that is their trademark. If they can maintain the pace and intensity they have shown so far then this Brazil side may be there for the taking. The opposite can also occur however and Brazil may overpower their opponents yet again.

Either way, the tournament will finally be losing one of its five South American teams on Monday night.

Probable Teams:

Brazil : Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Juan, Michel Bastos, Felipe Melo, Gilberto Silva, Elano, Kaka, Robinho, Luis Fabiano.

Chile : Bravo, Isla, Jara, Fuentes, Carmona, Milla, Vidal, Fernandez, Sanchez, Beausejour, Suazo.  

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