'Underdog' Netherlands set for showdown with Brazil
Port Elizabeth, South Africa (Sports Network) - Both the Netherlands and Brazil are known for playing some of the most attractive soccer the world has ever seen.
The Dutch teams of the 1970s that reached back-to-back World Cup finals were fantastic to watch, while Brazil has always played with plenty of flair as it piled up World Cup titles.
But when the two sides get together at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday for their World Cup quarterfinal match, don't expect to see the typical fireworks that these two teams normally produce.
Both sides have been much more responsible defensively in South Africa, having conceded just two goals through their opening four games, and they have gotten good results with this style as the Dutch have won all four of their games while Brazil has three wins and a draw.
And while the Netherlands has had little difficulty in navigating its way to this point in the tournament, manager Bert van Marwijk knows it's about to get much tougher.
"Against Brazil, perhaps we might be the underdogs for the first time in South Africa," Van Marwijk said. "But we are here for one reason, to get the big prize. We have to believe in it. People might have laughed at us when we said we were capable of winning the World Cup. But you have to show a real mentality, a constant focus. I think we are showing that."
The Dutch have not produced their typical free-flowing attack, but they also have not had the services of winger Arjen Robben, who made his first start for the team in their round of 16 victory over Slovakia after battling a hamstring problem.
Robben scored the opening goal in the 2-1 win, and with the Bayern Munich winger back in the fold, Van Marwijk is hoping his team can put together a total team effort on Friday.
"I think we are improving in every aspect but I would like to see everything converge into one match," he said. "We simply want to win and I don't think we are doing such a bad job."
Brazil manager Dunga is also doing a good job as he has his team in position to claim a sixth World Cup title.
Brazil's performance in the group stage was not overly impressive, but a 3-0 win over Chile offered a glimpse at how well this team is capable of playing.
Dunga does have a few injury concerns to deal with as midfield duo Elano and Felipe Melo are both struggling with ankle problems.
Elano has been ruled out of the match because of the injury, marking the third straight game he will miss, while Melo's status is still uncertain. Midfielder Ramires is suspended for the match, leaving Dunga without another option.
Expectations remain high as usual for Brazil, but midfielder Gilberto Silva knows that his team must be ready for a difficult match.
"We expect a very hard game because Holland have got a quality team with very good players," Silva said. "We know that if we give them space it will be very difficult for us and we could have a problem. This is what we want to avoid. We have played against Holland in these big World Cup matches before and it will be an emotional game."
While Brazil already owns five World Cup titles, the Dutch are still in search of their first, and Brazil will do its best to try and derail them again.
The two teams met at the quarterfinal stage in the 1994 World Cup, when Brazil won 3-2, while they also met four years later in the semifinals, with Brazil winning on penalty kicks.
"The mood in the squad is very good at the moment, everyone is enjoying a lot what we're doing for our country," Silva said. "Everyone is hungry to achieve one more trophy for Brazil. This is what we talk about all the time."