Will Brazil slice open the Oranje?
A nation with a rich footballing history of jogo bonito comes into contact with a country renowned for its total football philosophy. Surely these two purveyors of the beautiful game will put on a show of real attacking football in its purest form.
Or maybe not.
Both Dunga and Bert van Marwijk are not paid to entertain, as they tell the media frequently enough, they're paid to win matches and ultimately the World Cup.
Dunga's Brazil play a European style game with a solid defence the basis of their current success. In Cesar, Lucio and Maicon they have three of Inter Milan's treble winning defence protecting their goal. Added to that the solid Juan and Michel Bastos then you have a backline that has only conceded two goals in the World Cup so far.
Dunga will highlight the fact that the Brazilians have had to adapt to world football and mirror their European counterparts. From 1970 to 1994 the Brazilians suffered a World Cup drought despite playing some of the most aesthetic pleasing football of all time. The likes of Zico and Socrates may have delivered amazing football, but they didn't deliver the World Cup trophy.
The Netherlands have been criticised by their fans and media for their uninspiring performance so far. Indeed they've hardly had to get out of second gear to qualify from their group and past the second round.
Van Marwijk's frustration is born from the fact that the Oranje have won all of their games in South Africa so far and are currently in a sequence of a historic twenty three game unbeaten run. For the football fans brought up on the tantalizing skills of Johan Cruyff and that era's brand of mesmeric total football and even to a lesser extent the terrific European Championship winning side of 1988 then just winning is not enough. A win should be the end result of skill, style and panache....a thing of beauty.
Despite the criticism in the respective countries, as a neutral (as many of us English are now!), I am eagerly anticipating this mouth watering clash of two of the world's footballing superpowers.
Brazil (19/20) and Holland (16/5) have met on three occasions in past World Cups with Holland defeating Brazil 2-0 en route to the 1974 final while A Seleção gained revenge in the 1994 quarter-final meeting when Branca's free kick decided a pulsating game in Dallas. The most recent encounter was in the semi final in France four years later. A terrific 120 minutes couldn't separate the teams and Brazil finally progressed on penalties. Incidentally, the ‘to qualify' market for this match sees odds of Brazil (4/9) and Holland (13/8).
Brazil's goals have come from, what Carlos Quieroz described as, the "Golden Trio". Luis Fabiano (9/2 first scorer), Robinho (6/1) and Kaka (8/1) have been at the hub off all the best of Brazilian attacking play in South Africa and may need to reproduce some flashes of brilliance to get past the resolute Dutch defence.
Defenders have opened the scoring for Brazil in two of their matches. Maicon (20/1) and Juan (40/1) both breaking the deadlock against North Korea and Chile respectively. Juan's header was the first goal Brazil have scored from a set piece since a certain bucktoothed Samba star lobbed a free kick over David Seaman's head in 2002.
Holland's goals have been spread around their attack with only Wesley Sneijder (10/1) scoring on more than one occasion. The Inter Milan midfielder now has four goals in his last six internationals and is a very good shout to open the scoring here.
The other two main Dutch contenders to break down Lucio and co are Arsenal's Robin Van Persie and Bayern's Arjen Robben. Van Persie (11/2) gave a childlike show of petulance to being subbed against Slovakia but is still likely to spearhead the Holland attack in Port Elizabeth.
The Netherlands have looked particularly subdued without the electric wing play of Arjen Robben (8/1). Against Slovakia he cut inside form the left and slotted a trademark finish out of the reach of the keeper. Robben's ability to create something out of seemingly nothing could be the difference between the teams and why he is favoured by many to break the deadlock.
As I've said before I'm really looking forward to this World Cup heavyweight clash, therefore it's got to be a 0-0 bore draw! My expectations are for a lively and entertaining match...fingers crossed!
I would recommend a Brazil victory but with Nigel De Jong acting as midfield enforcer, attempting to suffocate any Brazilian attacks, I'm going to tip the draw at 11/5. I feel Brazil could get the better of the Dutch in extra time and could be seriously tempted by the method of qualification market - Brazil to win in extra time can be backed at 10/1.