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Netherlands v Chile: Shadow of Brazil means all is still to play for

With the losers likely to face Brazil in the last 16, Chile and the Netherlands will go all out for victory when they meet in their Group B match this evening, even though both teams are already through.

Charles Aranguiz  and Eduardo Vargas have been key players for Chile so far.Picture: EPA
Charles Aranguiz and Eduardo Vargas have been key players for Chile so far.Picture: EPA

While coaches studiously avoid discussing anything but the next game, what lies ahead adds a tantalising twist to a contest between European thoroughbreds and a Chile team that has surpassed expectations by ousting champions Spain. That 2-0 win at the Maracana stadium in Rio sent shockwaves through the tournament and will ensure that the Netherlands take their opponents seriously when they meet in Sao Paulo.

Robin van Persie, who like fellow striker Arjen Robben is joint-top scorer in Brazil with three goals, was impressed by what he saw of the South American opponents.

"They looked very good. They looked fit, they look strong, they play together," Van Persie said.

"I think that four or five players made Spain's life very hard. So we've got a big task. It will be very hard to at least draw against them," added the forward, who will miss the match after picking up two yellow cards in the first two games.

His absence is a blow to the Dutch, whose 5-1 destruction of Spain in the opening game was followed by a far less convincing 3-2 win over Australia, who are eliminated.

But in Jeremain Lens, favourite to replace him up front, the Netherlands have a forward who shone in the buildup, scoring five goals in nine qualifying matches.

Louis van Gaal, the Netherlands coach, confirmed that defender Bruno Martins Indi will also miss out after suffering concussion in the win over Australia, and added that there would be several changes for the match at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo. The Dutch have the slight edge, in that a draw will see them top the group owing to a superior goal difference.

For Chile, the main concern going into the match is the fitness of midfielders Charles Aranguiz and Arturo Vidal. Aranguiz, who scored against Spain on Wednesday, was substituted in the 64th minute, and Vidal, who had knee surgery last month, came off near the end.

Both players are also on a yellow card, meaning that another booking would see them miss the last 16 tie.

Vidal was singled out for his masterful display against Spain, pulling the strings behind forwards Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas, although the team as a whole pressed hard and launched a series of rapid-fire counter-attacks.

Vidal admitted his side face a tough task today. "I guess this is the best generation in Chilean football history because of the quality of players we have," he said.

"We have lots of players playing abroad and when they come together they are stronger than anything we have ever seen in Chile. It is going to be a final tomorrow because both teams want to win the group.

"Whoever has to play Brazil is going to have a difficult match, it's hard playing Brazil at home, they are one of the candidates to win the World Cup. But we are not thinking about that. We are focused on coming first in our group."

Jorge Sampaoli, the Chile coach, predicted a fast-paced match at the Corinthians arena. "I think it is going to be a match that is going to be tactically difficult for us," he said.

"[Van Gaal] has a great team and certainly he will try to control our game. But we have the power to uncover Holland's deficiencies.

"I think it is going to be a match where the most intelligent team and the one that best handles the timing of the match will win."

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