Jun 23, 2014, 8:38 AM EDT
Netherlands and Chile will tangle for, perceivably, the right to avoid host nation Brazil in the first match of the knockout round later today, and the Dutch will do so without a memorable prefix.
Robin van Persie’s suspension means that manager Louis van Gaal will be the nearest ‘van’ to the pitch, marking the first time since 1996 that a Netherlands team will take the field without a player boasting the legendary prefix (as RVP, Edwin van de Sar, and Marco van Basten led the charge).
That’s 221 matches with a ‘van’, and this one’s a big one. While the Spain vs. Australia match has been relegated to also-ran status, the victor (of sorts) today likely means Mexico or Croatia (assuming Brazil takes care of business against Cameroon).
Although that assumption is based more on Cameroon looking miserable rather than Brazil looking powerful. The host nation enters the day with a one-goal lead on Mexico for first place in Group A, while Croatia is a point below both teams heading into its match against El Tri.
In terms of Group B, Netherlands has a one-goal advantage over Chile, so a draw will be enough for the Dutch to win (so-to-speak).
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