When the Netherlands scored a decisive, humiliating win over defending World Cup champions Spain, a final showdown involving Chile still was not guaranteed. Thanks to Chile’s big win over Spain, however, an improbable Group B finale is now set up.
On one level, the teams can relax. Both are guaranteed a slot in the knockout round, a fancy name for the round of 16. On another level, everything is on the line here as these teams meet in a Monday showdown.
Whichever team wins the game earns the top slot from Group B and a matchup against a lesser opponent in the knockout round. The Netherlands have the upper hand as it is, because a draw would give each team seven points and Chile would lose the tiebreaker based on total number of goals scored.
Both teams have key players missing for this contest. Robin van Persie is out for this game because of a suspension. He is one of the top middles on this team, and replacement Memphis Depay will have big shoes to fill. Still, Depay did earn the game-winner against Australia, so you know he can score in crucial situations.
The Chileans are without top scorer Charles Aranguiz thanks to a knee injury, so that team will have to make a few adjustments prior to Monday’s matchup. These teams have not seen each other, which makes the meeting more tantalizing.
Prediction: Netherlands 3, Chile 1
Even though some soccer fans are still scratching their heads wondering how the Netherlands made it this far, it shouldn’t come as a shock. Keep in mind this team played in the 2010 World Cup championship game and lost 1-0 to Spain, so that opening game could be considered sweet revenge four years later.
The Netherlands have enough gas left in the tank to win, go undefeated in Group B, and to avoid a possible meeting with the host country of Brazil, which would set up a major South American showdown between Chile and the hosts.