Slovakia go into the knockout phase of South Africa 2010 after beating Italy in one of the most entertaining games of the group stages. Slovakia now face another of the European big boys as they take on the Netherlands with the aim of continuing their giant-killing run. The Netherlands are in form after winning all three of their group games without any trouble and with flying winger Arjen Robben coming back into the side for the final stages of the tournament, the stage looks set for a Dutch master class in this encounter.
After defeating the World Cup Holders, Slovakia will be ready to take on any team the World Cup throws their way. A Robert Vittek double helped see off the challenge of Italy in a Slovakia team performance that was vastly different from their previous two games.
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Netherlands vs Slovakia Odds:
Netherlands Advances (-530)
Slovakia Advances (+435)
Marek Hamsik appeared to wake up from his World Cup slumber against the Azzurri and proved that on the big occasion he can step up to the plate. Vittek and Hamsik are capable of taking the game to the Dutch defense, which has looked shaky at times, despite their team’s 100% record in the group stage.
But Slovakia also have their own defensive problems to think about. In the final 15 minutes against Italy, their defense looked overwhelmed by the quick movement of Fabio Quagliarella. Their big weakness is that when players with speed and agility run at them, they back off, which leaves the team vulnerable to being sliced open by more direct opposition. If Slovakia defend like they did in the final minutes against Italy when they encounter the Netherlands, they won’t stand a chance.
While some of Europe’s best have struggled mightily at South Africa 2010, the early stages of the competition were played at walking pace at times by the Netherlands, who seemed almost bored with the monotony of defeating the abject opposition placed alongside them in their group.
The form of Eljero Elia has been the big plus for Bart Van Marwijk’s team. The fast striker has impressed with his dribbling skills from wide positions during his three substitute appearances to date, and will be looking to get in the starting eleven for the first time against Slovakia. If Elia does start, he will definitely make an impact against an immobile Slovakia defense.
All the great World Cup teams have one standout player who can make the difference in a flash with one piece of skill. For the Netherlands, that player is Arjen Robben.
Robben made his first appearance at the world cup when he came on as a substitute in the final group game against Cameroon, and the answer as to whether the Netherlands can challenge for the World Cup trophy this year could depend on his continued fitness. And fitness will be an important factor for the entire Netherlands team here, as Slovakia are now in full game-ready mode after their victory over Italy. If this World Cup has proven anything thus far, it’s that having the obvious edge in terms of talent doesn’t always guarantee victory.
That said; this game should be fairly simple for the Dutch. If they can keep the game at their tempo and not let Slovakia settle on the ball in midfield, they could easily over-run a Slovakian side that has done well to get to this stage of the tournament at their first even World Cup. Italy didn’t take the Slovakian threat seriously. But expect the Netherlands to have done their homework and overcome Slovakia comfortably with direct wing play, short, quick passes around the penalty area and numerous goals.
Netherlands vs Slovakia Prediction: Netherland 2-0 Slovakia
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