Netherlands v. Slovakia (10 AM ET)
We haven’t written much about the Netherlands so far, mainly because there hasn’t been a great deal to say. They cruised an easy group, and now have drawn a second-tier European team in a tournament in which second-tier European teams have been terrible. As with Germany, we won’t really know anything about these guys until next round, when they hit South American opposition.
And make no mistake, they will hit South American opposition, because Slovakia is not going to stop them. The Slovaks have more than held up their end of the bargain by getting here after cleaning up after the Italian elephant show. At some point, though, you need more talent than they have on offer.
Prediction: Netherlands 2-0 Slovakia
Brazil v. Chile (2:30 PM ET)
Brazil allowed Europe one of its only really impressive group stage result against South America when it only managed a draw against Portugal. Don’t be fooled: Brazil was missing Kaka because of an earlier cheap red card, and pulled a couple of guys with yellows midway through the match. The real Brazilian team will be in place to take on Chile.
The Chileans came in second in the long, fair South American qualifying tournament, scoring 32 goals to Brazil’s 33 in that time. They’ve also have made a lot of friends in South Africa after a group stage in which they were unafraid to attack, going so far as to keep attacking Spain even after eating a red card. Problem is, all that attacking leaves them vulnerable to counters by Brazil (especially down the flanks; watch out for Maicon again tomorrow), as was evident in Chile’s 0-3 and 4-2 losses to Brazil during qualifying. A fun game to watch, though, and a pity that we have to waste one of these teams at this early stage.
Prediction: Brazil 3-1 Chile