Can table toppers afford to Chile out?
While both teams are already assured of their place in the knockout stages this is far from a dead rubber as the runners-up in Group B will most likely face Brazil in Belo Horizonte in the last 16.
On current form that may not be the most daunting of tasks and certainly neither Chile or Holland would fear the hosts. However, playing the favourites in their own back yard is preferably avoidable, irrespective of form, if at all possible.
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So with the Dutch boasting a superior goal difference, albeit just a single goal better, it is the Chileans who have the greater need for victory.
Although impressive when dumping out world champions Spain in their second game, where their high-tempo and workrate never dipped, Chile have shown some inconsistency. They were brilliant in the first half-hour against Australia but faded badly after conceding before half-time and never fully recovered after the interval, despite adding a third late on. They certainly cranked it up a couple of notches with their high-energy and high-pressing game against Spain, so their performance here may depend on how badly Chile want it.
What can not be doubted is the attacking quality they possess. A bit like Holland, they are blessed with an attacking trio who possess speed, smarts and no little skill in Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal, and Eduardo Vargas. All three have been in great form – with Vidal remarkably firing on all cylinders again despite only undergoing knee surgery in May – and will prove a handful for any side.
Holland front pair Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben, with three goals a piece, have equally impressed although the Oranje will have to plan without captain van Persie, who misses out through suspension. It remains to be seen whether Louis Van Gaal or Jorge Sampaoli choose to rest any other front line players ahead of the second round.
This could be a cracker; a real “if you score three we’ll score four” encounter, but with neither side requiring the win to progress the incentive to go all out may not be there.
The Dutch have conceded first-half goals in each of their games to date and with Chile likely to come out at break-neck speed again, expect the South Americans to take a first-half lead. The Dutch, even without van Persie, should have the firepower to hit back so Chile/Draw HT/FT looks great value at 11/1.
The match kicks off at 5pm UK time on Monday, June 23rd in Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo.