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Netherlands-Brazil preview notes

Friday, July 2, 2010
Jul 02

Posted by ESPN Stats & Information

Netherlands versus Brazil, Friday
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium -- Port Elizabeth, South Africa


• These teams have met three times in the World Cup and have produced a memorable game on each occasion. In 1974, it was a coming-out party for "Total Football," as Johan Cruyff ripped apart Brazil to give the Dutch a 2-0 victory and a berth in the final. In the 1994 quarterfinals, the Dutch rallied back from a two-goal deficit but lost 3-2 on a Branco bomb in the 81st minute. It was the game of the 1994 World Cup. In 1998, Brazil won on penalty kicks in the semifinals.

• Netherlands aims to reach the semis for the first time since that 1998 encounter.

• Brazil looks to erase memories of 2006. Four years ago in Germany, heavily favored Brazilians were upended in the quarterfinals by a Zinedine Zidane-inspired France, 1-0.

• Kaka's yellow-card peril: After missing the Portugal game due to being sent off for two yellow cards against the Ivory Coast, Kaka picked up another cheap yellow in Brazil's round-of-16 win over Chile. If he picks up another yellow card against the Dutch and Brazil wins the game, Kaka would miss the semifinals.

• Robin Van Persie-Wesley Sneijder spat: The temperamental Arsenal star was reportedly not happy about being subbed out in the Slovakia game and is reported to have said that Sneijder should have been subbed out instead of him. Coach Bert van Marwijk was angry at the report and called a team meeting to remind his squad to stay united, which has been an issue for the Dutch at past World Cups.

Series history

• Brazil leads 3-2-4.

What to look for

• Can Kaka get going? Brazil's inspirational playmaker has had a quiet World Cup (except for his card problems) and will need to be at his best.

• Elano injury: The midfielder who scored in Brazil's first two contests is expected to miss the game with an ankle injury.

• Arjen Robben: The Bayern Munich star made his first start of the World Cup against Slovakia and helped kick the Dutch offense into a higher gear. Still recovering from a hamstring injury sustained in a friendly on June 5, Robben only played 71 minutes versus the Slovaks and it's unlikely he can play through extra time against Brazil.

• Sneijder: The Inter Milan star has been among the best in the World Cup so far, and he will again be the key player for the Dutch.

• Eight Dutch players are on yellow cards: Robin van Persie, Rafael van der Vaart, Dirk Kuyt, Nigel de Jong, Gregory van der Wiel, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Arjen Robben and goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.

From the research room

• The Dutch have now won their past eight games and currently have a 23-game unbeaten streak.

• Brazil is undefeated in 10 straight, a streak that dates back to a 2-1 loss to Bolivia in qualifying on Oct. 11, 2009.

• Brazil has outscored its opponents by 28 goals (36-8) in World Cup matches with Lucio on the field.

• Luis Fabiano has scored 13 goals in his last 13 competitive games for Brazil.

• Mark van Bommel has excelled for the Dutch and is leading the team in chances created, passes completed, touches, tackles attempted and won, and intercepted passes.

• Van Persie touched the ball only 22 times in Monday's victory over Slovakia, and he hasn't had more than 37 touches in any given game during the World Cup. In contrast, Van Persie had at least 40 touches in 12 of his 14 starts in the Premiership last season and tallied a season-high of 79 in Arsenal's 4-0 win over Fulham (in which van Persie scored a goal) on May 9.

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