Van Persie urges Netherlands to top group and avoid Brazil clash

The Holland captain is suspended for the final Group B fixture against Chile but has urged his team-mates to finish top, while defender Ron Vlaar says confidence is growing
By Greg Stobart in Rio de Janeiro

Netherlands captain Robin van Persie has urged his team-mates to make sure they finish top of their World Cup group and avoid a last-16 clash with hosts Brazil.

The Dutch and Chile have both qualified for the knockout stages and face each other in Sao Paulo on Monday, with the Netherlands needing a draw to finish top of Group B.

The second-placed side is likely to come up against Brazil in the second round, assuming Luis Felipe Scolari’s men finish top of Group A.

Van Persie will miss Monday’s clash through suspension but has urged his team-mates not to let up after two wins so far.

“I feel it’s better for us to finish top of the group and face the better teams later in the tournament, with all due respect to the rest of the teams in the competition,” said Van Persie at the Netherlands’ training base in Rio de Janeiro on Friday.

“We just have to come first and see what happens because Brazil play after our game. We will just see what happens and take it from there.”

The Netherlands have started the tournament in impressive form, thumping holders Spain 5-1 in their opening match before qualifying for the next stage with a 3-2 victory over Australia.

Defender Ron Vlaar says that confidence is growing in the squad that the 2010 finalists can reach the latter stages of the tournament.

“The belief in our country wasn’t that big until after the Spain game but we always believed in ourselves and that’s where it starts,” said Vlaar.

“The belief in our team is growing. We have worked really hard and winning games makes it better and better. We know what we are capable of because we have forwards who change matches.”