Goal.com looks at some key match-ups for the quarter-final clash in Port Elizabeth...Nelson Mandela Bay will host what promises to be one of the most intriguing and exciting contests of the 2010 World Cup thus far when the hopeful Netherlands take on five-time winners Brazil. There are several key match-ups to be highlighted ahead of the rematch of the 1998 semi-final.
Arjen Robben/Dirk Kuyt v Michel Bastos/Maicon
You get a two for one here, simply because the two Oranje stars could play on either side of the pitch. Against Slovakia, Robben was on the right and Kuyt on the left and chances are it was an experiment that coach Bert van Marwijk was trying it out knowing he’d likely face Dunga’s boys in the last eight and it had positive results.
In typical rampaging style, both Maicon and Michel Bastos like to push forward, but with so much attacking talent on the flanks for both sides, they may hold back more than usual, especially early on. Robben should have the beating of Bastos with the ball at his feet, so the Lyon winger will need to keep the pressure constantly on ‘the glass man’ for as long as he’s on the field. Kuyt and Maicon are both powerful workhorses and it will be anyone’s guess as to see who shows the first inkling of fatigue.
Robin van Persie v Lucio
Van Persie has yet to set the World Cup alight, bagging a single goal against Cameroon and perhaps his most notable contribution has been an argument with his manager after being subbed off in their previous match. He’ll face his toughest match yet in the indomitable Lucio. The veteran centre-back has been in great form in South Africa and is an exceptional reader of the game. The Gunner will need to show more guile and be further involved in the attack in terms of both darting runs and touches to trouble the 32-year-old captain.
Wesley Sneijder v Kaka
Real Madrid reject versus 2007 Ballon d’Or winner. Sounds a tad one-sided, but in fact it could be the match-up that makes or breaks this game. Kaka’s arrival in Spain pushed Sneijder out the door of the Bernabeu, but while the Brazilian ended his club season with no trophies, injuries, and little impact - the Dutchman was a pivotal part of the Nerazzurri’s historic treble.
Sneijder has continued his positive exploits from the club season for his country, but Kaka has also come close to his best, linking up with Robinho and Luis Fabiano up front. Both will be afforded very little time and space, so both men will need to produce their most potent form to influence the game.
Bert van Marwijk v Dunga
Despite coach Dunga’s impressive record in charge of Brazil, including winning the 2009 Confederations Cup, back home he is not appreciated by the public , who often criticise his more pragmatic approach and would prefer the Joga Bonito ways of the past. Similarly, Van Marwijk’s Dutch side have played a comparable style to Brazil thus far and been accused of not hitting top gear.
Dunga will not change his style and in terms of results doesn’t need to, but for Van Marwijk arguably just as important as his tactics will be his ability to instill the belief in his players that they can finally overcome their World Cup curse. Holland have always failed at these hurdles in the past on the world stage and now is their time to prove they have developed enough to defeat the cream of the crop.
All players can of course play a role – the jury seem to be out on whether defenders Joris Mathijsen and Johnny Heitinga are good enough to quell an attack of the calibre of Brazil’s, that includes Luis Fabiano and Robinho.
Defensive midfielders Felipe Melo for Brazil, should he overcome a slight injury, and Nigel De Jong for Netherlands will also have to work hard to close down attacks and regain possession for their teams as per usual.
Who will come out on top? Check out Castrol Football's 2010 FIFA World Cup Match Predictor.
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