Giantkillers Slovakia take on the Dutch
Johannesburg: Slovakia face the mighty Dutch on Monday hoping to keep their giantkilling run alive and join Germany and Argentina in the World Cup quarter-finals.
Having already accounted for holders Italy in the group stage, the World Cup debutants will need to be at their very best in Durban against a Netherlands team that have a perfect record so far.
Fans in Johannesburg will be watching impatiently to see if Brazil can show some of their customary flair when they meet underdogs Chile in Monday’s other match.
The Samba Boys will need to show more style than they have in dull displays so far to match the powerful performance by Argentina, who beat a tough Mexico 3-1 on Sunday.
That Argentine win set up a quarter-final clash with Germany, who crushed a pedestrian England 4-1.
Chile start as real underdogs against the five-times champions at Ellis Park, Johannesburg.
They have lost seven matches in a row against their Latin American rivals, conceding 26 goals in the last five years.
They also lost their two previous World Cup clashes in 1962 and 1998.
To compound matters, Brazilian playmaker Kaka is back after suspension and Robinho, rested for the Portugal match, will almost certainly play.
Brazil also tend to thrive against teams like Chile who like to attack, making themselves vulnerable to counter punches.
Like Chile, Slovakia would have to produce another huge performance if they are to reach the quarters, and are likely to play the same line-up that stunned Italy last week.
The Dutch, meanwhile, could add flying winger Arjen Robben to their starting line-up after midfielder Rafael van der Vaart suffered a possible calf strain in training on Sunday.
England could have done with a flying winger of their own in Bloemfontein, or speed in any position for that matter.
The youthful Germans were simply too fast. England lacked vital pace in defence and were outplayed despite having a clear Frank Lampard goal in the first half disallowed by officials who ruled it had not crossed the line.
England looked tired and lacking inspiration against the young German team who played perfectly to a strategy set by coach Joachim Loew to open wide spaces for his fast attackers Thomas Mueller and Lukas Podolski by drawing central defender John Terry out to challenge Miroslav Klose.
“We made some mistakes and the referee made one big mistake but Germany played a good game. Little things decide the result of these matches always,” said England coach Fabio Capello.
It was England’s worst World Cup defeat and Capello told a news conference he would seek reassurance from the Football Association that his job was safe.
Less than a month ago the FA confirmed he would stay as coach until Euro 2012 but the humiliation in Bloemfontein could change that after England came here with hopes higher than for years that they could repeat their only triumph in 1966.
The German win, after some tasteless pre-match sniping by tabloid papers in each country, brought revellers on to the streets in Berlin honking car horns and letting off fireworks on one of the hottest nights of the summer in northern Europe.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, watching the match with British Prime Minister David Cameron at a G20 summit in Canada, said it was “a fantastic victory.”
Their quarter-final in Cape Town on Saturday against Argentina will be a rematch of the successive World Cup finals of 1986 and 1990. Argentina won the first, Germany the second.
The mood could not have been more different in England where many fans sat head-in-hands after watching in the open air.
Two giant screens were set up for 80,000 people at the Glastonbury music festival but many drifted away before the match ended. “I’ll probably have a sulk for a couple of hours, then drink plenty and probably get over it,” said Jessica, 24.