Spain v Portugal preview

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One of the most intriguing fixtures in the second round of the World Cup pitches Spain against Portugal.

The geographical neighbours entered this summer’s showpiece among the favourites to go all the way, with both having fared admirably at recent tournaments.

Portugal finished as runners-up at Euro 2004 and fourth at the 2006 World Cup, while Spain made the last 16 four years ago and took the spoils at the 2008 European Championship.

The weight of expectation perhaps weighed heavy on both teams during the group stages, as they offered only glimpses of their awe-inspiring best.

Spain lost their opening encounter to Switzerland, before recovering well to see off Honduras and Chile and top Group H.

Portugal finished second to Brazil in Group G, with a 7-0 demolition of North Korea undoubtedly their highlight so far.

Carlos Queiroz’s side are also the only team left in the competition yet to concede a goal, having been held 0-0 by Ivory Coast and Brazil in their other two games.

Spain will be hoping that their attacking weapons start to fire as the World Cup enters the knockout stages, while Portugal have also yet to see the best from their main men.

Fernando Torres has so far failed to find the target for the Spanish, and looks far from match sharp, while Cristiano Ronaldo has been unable to produce the sparkling form which earned him the 2009 World Player of the Year award.

All that could be about to change, though, as both nations boast considerable experience and match-winning firepower within their ranks.

Alonso doubt

Spain’s quest for a quarter-final place has been hampered by the news that Xabi Alonso looks set to be unavailable to Vicente del Bosque.

He sustained an ankle knock during the final group fixture against Chile and is struggling to prove his fitness.

Should he miss out, his place in the starting XI is expected to go to Javi Martinez – who replaced him against Chile.

Spain will also be without Real Madrid centre-half Raul Albiol, who has an ankle injury of his own.

Deco returns

Portugal will welcome Deco back into their plans for the all-or-nothing encounter.

He missed the final two fixtures of the group stages with a hip complaint, but is now raring to go once more.

Queiroz will be delighted to have Deco back in contention, as fellow playmaker Danny is missing with a thigh injury.

Ruben Amorim is struggling with a similar problem and he will once again be forced to watch on from the sidelines.

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Paraguay v Japan preview

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Paraguay head into their game against Japan in the second round of the World Cup as favourites to progress, but this will not be an easy game for the South Americans.

There is unlikely to be many goals in this game in Pretoria on Tuesday, with both sides having scored just seven between them and conceded three so far in the finals.

Paraguay may have topped Group F and proved how strong their continent’s teams have been during this tournament, but the Japanese have caused some surprises so far, impressing in wins over Cameroon and Denmark and only narrowly losing out to Holland.

They have not played the enterprising football of the Chileans or had the star quality in Luis Suarez or Diego Forlan that Uruguay possess, but Paraguay have always been a tough, solid side, so far conceding just one goal that came in their opening 1-1 draw with the underwhelming Italians.

Lack of firepower

A 0-0 draw with New Zealand displayed a worrying lack of firepower, but arguably their finest players come in their attack, with Roque Santa Cruz, Lucas Barrios, Nelson Valdez and Oscar Cardozo all options up front for manager Gerardo Martino.

Martino was unhappy with his forwards’ profligacy in front of goal, and they may find it tough to break through, even having trouble breaking down a poor Slovakia side who showed no attacking threat as they went down 2-0.

Paraguay are likely to try to make their physical presence count against the less imposing Japanese, but they will need to improve their finishing if they want to make it any further than the quarter-finals.

Japan have been a busy, hard-working, organised and disciplined side, benefiting from the skills of Keisuke Honda, who has proved to be one of the most impressive players of this World Cup so far, leading the line well and scoring a stunning long-range free kick against the Danes.

It is the first time the Japanese have ever made the last 16 of the finals outside of their nation, after reaching the same stage when they hosted the 2002 competition, but they will have to do what no other Asian side has done in the history of the World Cup and beat South American opposition.

They were not expected to make much of an impact this summer, however the performances of Honda, Yasuhito Endo and Tulio Tanaka has given them a real chance to make the quarter-finals, but they will have to be at their strongest to get past the physical nature of Paraguay.

Team news

Another bonus for manager Takeshi Okada is that he has managed to field the same team for every game so far after suffering no injuries or suspensions during the tournament.

Okada is likely to stick with the same formation and players, and will be boosted by the news that centre-back Tanaka should be fit to play after recovering from a back injury despite training on his own since the 3-1 win over Denmark.

Paraguay will be without Victor Ceceres who is suspended following two bookings in the group stage with Carlos Bonet likely to deputise.

Antolin Alcaraz missed their encounter with the All Whites with a minor injury but should return in time for Tuesday’s game and could start for Martino’s men.

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Holland 2 Slovakia 1

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But that’s the last kick of the game as Holland go through to the quarter-finals with a workmanlike performance. Shearer reckons they can’t win the World Cup but you never know. Thanks for all your e-mails today and tune in later for Brazil’s clash with Chile.

Penalty Goal90 + 4 Vittek sends the keeper the wrong way to score his fourth goal of the tournament.

Yellow Card90 + 4 Stekelenburg is booked and prepares to face the spot-kick.

Penalty Given90 + 3 Jakubko is brought down by Stekelenburg and a penalty is awarded.

90 + 2 Sneijder has made his last contribution as he makes away for Ibrahim Afellay, whose first touch is to drill the ball low from 25 yards just past the post.

90 + 1 Three minutes stoppage time to be played. Jakubko thinks he’s through but he is flagged offside.

90 Elia thinks about getting forward but plays it back to Van Bronckhorst, who underhits a back pass, but it’s a throw to Holland.

89 Kuyt heads the ball goalwards and gets into the box. His low cross tries to far Elia at the far post but Mucha just cuts it out.

88 A deep cross from Kuyt sails over the bar.

Substitution87 Double change for Slovakia as Marek Sapara and Martin Jakubko come on for Zabavnik and Hamsik, who has been poor.

86 A cross from the by-line falls to Elia at the back post. He tries to get past Pekarik before shooting low sraight at Mucha.

Yellow Card85 Skrtel is booked for protesting about something.

Goal84 GOAL SNEIJDER! Van Bronckhorst sends a free-kick down the left channel for Kuyt, who heads the ball past Mucha. He controls the ball and pulls it back for Sneijder, who side-foots the ball home from 15 yards.

82 Elia concedes a free-kick down Slovakia’s right. De Jong fouls Hamsik moments later. Hamsik delivers a cross which is headed out by Mathijsen.

81 Holland try to take a quick free-kick but the ref isn’t happy with that and he brings the play back.

80 RVP isn’t happy with the decision and he has a word with coach Bert van Marwijk.

Substitution79 Another change for Holland as Klaas-Jan Huntelaar replaces Van Persie.

78 Slovakia break down the left. Kucka gets in a shot on the edge of the area which is blocked but the ball falls to Vittek, whose snap-shot clears the bar. Holland appeal for offside but he was definitely on.

78 Terrible touch from Van Bronckhorst gives Slovakia a throw.

77 Kuyt makes a block and then skips past Zabavnik, but Weiss gets back and he makes a tackle. Throw to Holland.

76 Kuyt sprays the ball out to the left for Elia, but his cross is poor again and Weiss has time to bring the ball out.

75 Neat run from Elia is not matched by his cross which goes straight to Durica, who brings the ball clear.

74 The corner comes to nothing and Slovakia clear only for the men in orange to come forward again.

73 RVP plays the ball out to Kuyt on the left. The Liverpool man moves infield and sends in a fierce shot which is beaten away for a corner by Mucha.

Yellow Card72 First touch for Kopunek is to be shown a yellow card for going through the back of fellow sub Elia.

Substitution71 Slovakia also make a change as Kamil Kopunek comes on for Jendrisek.

Substitution71 Eljero Elia comes on for Robben, who is being saved for the next round by the looks of things.

70 Sneijder curls in the free-kick which is headed over by Kuyt.

69 Skrtel fouls Van Persie in a dangerous position on Holland’s left. Ideal for Sneijder.

68 Van Bommel loses possession but then races back and is fouled by Kucka.

67 An even better chance for Slovakia as Vittek receives the ball on the edge of the area, after De Jong has a rush of blood to the head. Vittek turns and shoots, but Stekelenburg pulls off a brilliant save.

66 Good move from the Slovaks as Stoch gets into the box but comes out again before his piledriver is tipped over by Stekelenburg.

65 Sneijder goes over the ankle of Kucka but no foul awarded.

64 Another quick counter attack from the Dutch as Robben plays the ball across to Sneijder. He cuts on to his right foot but his shot is blocked by a defender.

63 Slovakia need to up the tempo now, they’re long-range shots just aren’t cutting the mustard.

62 Kucka shoots from just outside the centre circle! His shot is going wide but Stekelenburg is scrambling and nearly decides to palm it out for a corner.

61 Van Bommel slips past Kucka but Slovakia are soon back on the ball.

60 Sneijder penalised for a foul inside Slovakia’s half which is taken long by Skrtel for Vittek. Stoch goes down in the box under pressure from Van Bommel but no penalty awarded.

59 Free-kick to Holland to the right of the Slovak area. RVP sends in a fierce shot which is punched out by Mucha, who clatters into Kuyt at the same time – or possibly the other way round. Brave keeping.

58 Zabavnik is back on the pitch. Sneiijder plays the ball out to Robben, who ghosts past Zabavnik and tries to cut the ball back for Sneijder but the danger is cleared.

57 He’s receiving treatment on the touchlines but play continues without him. Slovakia momentarily down to 10 men.

56 It looks a nasty challenge and the stretcher is on.

55 Zabavnik in pain as RVP runs into him stretching for the ball inside Slovakia’s area. The Slovaks kick the ball out.

54 Zabavnik penalised for handball as Robben tries to take the ball past him.

53 Van Bommel catches Kucka and Slovakia have a free-kick which is taken short.

52 Free-kick on the left is floated to the back post by Sneijder for Kuyt but Kucha takes a good catch.

50 Another great chance for Holland. This time Robben turns up on the left and sends in a low cross for Van Bommel, whose close-range shot strikes the face of Mucha. Lucky escape for the men in white, should be 2-0.

49 Weiss loses possession and the Dutch break down the left. Great tunr by RVP but Durica clears to Robben. The winger jinks his way to the edge of the area and forces a superb one-handed save from Mucha. Corner.

48 Slovakia enjoy a spell of possession as they seek an opening. Weiss tries to slip through to Hamsik but Heitinga inteercepts.

47 No changes at the break by the way.

46 Holland get the second half under way.

Feedback Liam Ferguson writes in: “I think the score justifies the level of play during the match, but I am really happy that Holland are winning because I have backed them since the start of the tournament and I have money on them, so hopefully Holland can defend and create more chances during the second half. I can see Sneijder and Van Persie getting on the score sheet as well as Vittek, I would be telling the Slovakian team to defend better, create chances and try to stop Robben and Kuyt from running up and down the wings. Final Result – Holland 3 Slovakia 1.” Cheers Liam

Sky Bet Update from Sky Bet. “Qualification into the quarters looks a formality now for Holland at 1/66, with Slovakia 12/1. Robben is 6/1 to follow up his strike with the next goal, while Sneijder can be backed at 7/1. The game could open up as Slovakia push for an equaliser and over 2.5 goals can be backed at 5/4.”

Feedback Nick Jones mailed during the game to say that “Holland were his pre-tournament prediction. He wants to know how they’re getting on and says they haven’t played a good team yet but as England, France and Italy have shown, you can only beat what’s in front of you. Also, as an Evertonian, he wants to know how Mucha is looking? I saw the one game and I thought he looked very solid.” Well, Nick they’re looking solid but are sitting on their lead against a side that could do something in the second half. Slovakia’s midfield looks quite tasty at times. Mucha was beaten at his near post but it was a great strike from Robben.

Feedback Before the game kicked off Nadz, from Mauritius, mailed to say Holland would win 2-0, with RVP scoring both goals. One part down there Nadz.

Feedback A few of you have had a bet on this game so let’s start with those. Stevewent for Van Persie to convert Robben’s cross to be first goalscorer. Unlucky Steve. Dave Gamston’s bet is still on. He has the Dutch to win 2-1 at 14/1.

Half Time The half-time whistle goes. Holland are slowing the game down now that they’re ahead which doesn’t make for a great spectacle but they’re just doing enough to get through.

45 Kucka takes the ball off the toes of Sneijder and his shot takes a deflection but the whistle blows for a foot-up, much to the midfielder’s disgust.

44 Slovakia are really struggling to get into this game.

43 Good move from the Dutch involving Van Persie, Sneijder, Robben and Van Bommel, whose cross to the near post finds RVP but he just misses the target.

42 Another long ball from the visionary Sneeijder is just too far for RVP.

41 Slovakia launch a counter attack and Weiss tries his luck from distance but his shot takes a deflection off Heitinga for Slovakia’s first corner which is taken short but comes to nothing.

40 RVP bursts forward but shoots with his right foot and it’s an easy save for Mucha.

Yellow Card39 Kucka brings the ball forward but pushes it too far and fouls De Jong which earns the Slovak midfielder a yellow card.

38 Weiss thinks he’s earned a corner off Mathijsen near the by-line but it’s a goal-kick to the Dutch.

37 Holland just playing the ball coolly around at the back as they have done for most of this tournament. They and Argentina are the only big teams not to have been troubled so far.

36 Weiss is harried off the ball by Van der Wiel near Hollaand’s corner flag. He thinks he should have had a free-kick but it’s a throw to the Dutch.

35 Change of flag for one of the linesman!

34 Van Brronckhorst commits a foul and the free-kick is taken short as Hamsik bursts forward. He plays the ball out to the right for Pekarik but his cross is headed out by Heitinga.

33 Zabavnik makes a crucial interception to prevent Robben from going clear down the right.

32 Jendrisek is off target with a shot from distance.

Yellow Card31 First booking of the game goes to Robben for handball but the Bayern Munich winger isn’t happy about it.

31 Stoch’s free-kick is swung in and back-heeled away from inside the six area by Nigel de Jong.

30 Free-kick 45 yards out to Slovakia as Vittek is fouled by Joris Mathijsen.

29 Poor ball by Vittek for Jendrisek as the ball goes out for a Dutch throw.

28 Sneijder brought down by Kucka inside Slovakia’s half.

27 Van Bommel earns another corner off Zabavnik which is swubg in by RVP. Kuyt heads the ball across the face of goal but Jendrisek is there first before Sneijder commits a foul inside the box.

26 Sneijder’s inswinging corner is punched away double-fisted by Mucha.

25 Holland in total control now as they move the ball around. Kuyt slips the ball to RVP, whose cross deflects off Peter Pekarik for a corner.

24 An aimless ball from the back goes straight through to Stekelenburg.

23 Robben moves infield and thinks Van der Wiel is there on the overlap as he backheels the ball to the rigth wing. He isn’t and the ball goes straight out for a throw.

22 Weiss loses possession as he tries to slip the ball past Van der Wiel but the Slovaks are soon back in control.

21 Robben is given a lot to do by RVP as the Arsenal’s pass goes out of play for a throw.

20 The Slovaks build slowly from the back as they look to recover from that setback.

19 Slovakia can count themselves unlucky to be a goal down but when you’re up against players like Robben and Sneijder you’re always going to risk conceding a goal.

Goal18 GOAL ROBBEN! Sensational long ball from Sneijder for Robben, who cuts inside Jan Durica and Zabavnik and shoots low inside the near post with his left foot and beats the outstretched arm of Mucha. Brilliant.

17 Holland earn a free-kick but Mark Van Bommel’s delivery inside his own half is atrocious.

16 Goal-kick to the Slovaks which is flicked on but Heitinga passes the ball back to Stekelenburg.

15 Jendrisek dispossesses Van der Wiel but his pass infield to Robert Vittek is cut out by Johnny Heitinga.

14 Juraj Kucka takes a set forward and drills the ball across the face of goal from about 25 yards. Not too far away but neither keeper has made a save yet.

13 Van Bronckhorst penalised for backing into Weiss inside Slovakia’s half.

12 Van Bronckhorst clears with a volley as Hamsik tries to pick out Jendrisek.

11 Kuyt flagged offside charging down the left flank.

10 Lively start to the game – and fairly equal on the balance of play. But Holland are back on the attack as RVP plays in Sneijder, who shoots straight at Jan Mucha.

9 Weiss has made a lively start and he sends in a low cross for Jendrisek, but Stekelenburg gets down low to gather.

8 The corner is cleared by Slovakia but Holland are back on the ball and Van Bronckhorst tries to find Van Persie but overhits his pass.

7 Great chance for Holland as Kuyt delivers a great cross to Robin Van Persie, whose header deflects off Radoslav Zabavnik for a corner. Poor attempt by the Arsenal striker.

6 Lots of long-range shots flying in as Kuyt tries his luck from distance to no effect.

5 Good flowing move from the Slovaks as Marek Hamsik has Maarten Stekelenburg scrambling at his near post.

4 Robben plays a short pass to Wes Sneijder, who curls the ball over from 25 yards. Better option was Kuyt on the wing.

3 Dirk Kuyt on the left today, with Robben on the right. Giovanni Van Bronckhorst earns a throw near the corner flag but Slovakia clear their lines.

2 Great start for Slovakia as Weiss breaks forward, taking advantage of Gregory Van der Wiel being out of position. He lays the ball off to Erik Jendrisek, who drives the ball just over the bar.

Feedback1 Slovakia get the game under way and we start with an e-mail from Greg, who writes: “Got £20 on Holland to win the world cup this time around! Hopefully they won’t need to use Robben until the next game, which I’m hoping will be Chile! Come on Holland!!!”

Arjen Robben and Gregory Van Der Wiel return for Holland, with Khalid Boulahrouz and Rafael Van der Vaart the men to make way. Vladimir Weiss comes in for Slovakia.

Here are today’s teams:

Holland: Stekelenburg, Van Der Wiel, Heitinga, Mathijsen, Van Bronckhorst, Kuyt, Van Bommel, De Jong, Robben, Sneijder, van Persie. Subs: Vorm, Boulahrouz, Ooijer, De Zeeuw, Braafheid, Elia, Schaars, Babel, Afellay, Huntelaar, Van der Vaart, Boschker.

Slovakia: Mucha, Pekarik, Skrtel, Durica, Zabavnik, Weiss, Kucka, Stoch, Hamsik, Jendrisek, Vittek. Subs: Pernis, Cech, Kozak, Sestak, Sapara, Holosko, Jakubko, Kopunek, Salata, Petras, Kuciak.

Our referee today is Alberto Undiano Mallenco from Spain.

Good afternoon and welcome to the first of today’s World Cup last-16 clockwatches. We’ve got Holland taking on surprise package Slovakia in Durban. The Dutch qualified from their group with a 100% record and Slovakia shocked Italy to qualify for the knockout phase. The teams will follow shortly but if you’ve got any thoughts about the game e-mail them to joel.

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Drilled Dutch slay Slovaks

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A fine strike from Arjen Robben and a late effort from Wesley Sneijder fired Holland into the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup as they claimed a routine 2-1 win over Slovakia in Durban.

Robben scored a trademark goal in the 18th minute in what turned out to be a cruise for the Dutch, who did what was required without over-exerting themselves, before Sneijder sealed the success while Robert Vittek grabbed an injury-time consolation for his nation.

The triumph means Holland will next face either Brazil or Chile in the last eight, with the South American pair to play on Monday evening.

Robben handed the Dutch a boost by making his first start of the 2010 World Cup, replacing Rafael van der Vaart, while Gregory van der Wiel returned to the team. For Slovakia, head coach Vladimir Weiss selected his son of the same name, with the Manchester City youngster coming in for Zdeno Strba.

Slovakia enjoyed a confident start to the fixture as a bright counter-attack in the second minute saw Weiss pass to Erik Jendrisek, whose strike from outside the box zoomed over the bar. Then it was Holland’s turn for a sighter, Sneijder the man to lash off target.

In the sixth minute, Marek Hamsik’s stinging left-footed shot had Maarten Stekelenburg a little more concerned, but the ball whistled wide. A minute later, Robin van Persie was presented with the game’s best chance thus far when he met a Dirk Kuyt cross, the Liverpool man delivering from the left wing, only to see his tame header deflected out for a corner.

Classic Robben

Holland struggled to find tempo and rhythm during the early exchanges, although a rare flash of flair from Van Persie, as he turned well before slipping in Sneijder, opened up the Slovaks. But the Inter Milan schemer’s effort was rather scuffed resulting in an easy stop for goalkeeper Jan Mucha.

However, Holland broke the deadlock on 18 minutes. A fabulous raking pass from Sneijder deep inside his own half was latched onto by Robben, who typically cut inside to open up his body for a left-footed strike, with Van Persie’s run helping to create space, and the Bayern Munich man rifled low into the corner.

Slovakia struggle to respond to their setback as the Dutch looked comfortable without being exerted. Indeed, Slovakia’s next most half-threatening moment came in the 31st minute when Nigel de Jong cleared a deep free-kick in unorthodox fashion. Seconds after, Robben was perhaps harshly given a yellow card for a deliberate handball.

The first half ended with a whimper as a lack of invention from both sides proved the undoing of a spectacle that promised much at the start. Moments of note before the half-time whistle included another harsh booking, this time for a Juraj Kucka foul, and a tepid right-footed shot by Van Persie. But that is scraping the barrel.

Holland very nearly doubled their lead twice in the space of a minute early in the second half. First, another Robben effort was expertly pushed around the post by Mucha before the Slovak keeper was swiftly called back into action, this time denying Joris Mathijsen with his face after a cross by Robben.

Van Persie then found himself involved on two differing occasions when he caught defender Radoslav Zabavnik with an awkward challenge before the Arsenal striker sent in an in-swinging free-kick which was bravely punched away by the Everton-bound Mucha.

Stekelenburg stops

Finally, Stekelenburg was called into action as twice in a minute Slovakia hit the target. Miroslav Stoch was first to pull the trigger, forcing a palm over from Stekelenburg before an even better chance for Vittek, who was one-v-one with the keeper, drew a stop which was made simple for the fact that the strike was central.

Holland boss Bert van Marwijk replaced the not yet fully fit Robben with Elijero Elia on 71 minutes while Jendrisek was replaced by Kamil Kopunek, whose first act was to foul Elia and be booked for the challenge.

Kuyt was the man to almost double Holland’s advantage when he headed over then thumped a long-range struck that stung the hands of Mucha. Vittek was presented with a half-chance with 12 minutes remaining but blasted over before Klaas Jan Huntelaar entered the fray for the rusty Van Persie.

And with six minutes left, the result was put beyond doubt. Mucha, so excellent throughout the game, was at fault as he came racing out of his goal to allow Kuyt to nip in. The Liverpool forward got his head up and rolled across goal for Sneijder who buried into the exposed goal and ensured of Holland’s progress.

But there was to be some cheer for Slovakia when Vittek grabbed his fourth goal of the tournament in the fourth minute of injury-time, dispatching from the penalty spot after a foul by Stekelenburg on Martin Jakubko in the area. Yet it proved nothing more than a consolation.

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Brazil v Chile preview

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Tournament favourites Brazil take on fellow South American outfit Chile for the right to face Holland or Slovakia in the last eight of the World Cup.

Five-time World Champions Brazil are unbeaten in the tournament so far, after successfully negotiating ‘Group of Death’ Group G.

Dunga’s side saw off North Korea 2-1 in their opener before sealing their qualification with an impressive 3-1 victory over Ivory Coast.

While the gloss was taken off their group campaign somewhat with the dour goalless stalemate with Portugal last time, the point at least helped Brazil finish top of their group.

They will also take confidence from the fact that they beat their opponents twice – a 3-0 win in Chile before a 4-2 home success – when heading the South America qualification group for the tournament, with Chile a point behind in second.

But it will not be easy at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park against a Chilean side who also began their World Cup group campaign with two wins.

These came in Group H against Honduras and Switzerland – with a single goal in each game enough to decide the issue in their favour.

But Marcelo Bielsa’s side then also suffered a hiccup in their last group game, going down 2-1 to well-fancied Spain.

Their cause was not helped by Marco Estrada’s dismissal, while rash goalkeeping by Claudio Bravo gifted David Villa the opening goal, and Bielsa will be demanding an improvement.

Team news

Brazil will be boosted by the return of star man Kaka from suspension, while midfielder Elano has been declared fit after shrugging off a knock on his ankle.

The former Manchester City player, who scored in both of Brazil’s opening two matches but missed the Portugal draw, took part in full training on Saturday and a team spokesperson confirmed he is available to play.

City forward Robinho also missed the bore draw but he too trained in the session and should feature against Chile.

But Felipe Melo remains a concern after twisting an ankle against Portugal, while Julio Baptista, who hurt his knee in the same game, is also a doubt.

Chile will be without Estrada after the midfielder received his marching orders against Spain following a second yellow card for clipping Fernando Torres.

But Chile will be able to cover his absence as fellow midfielders Carlos Carmona and Matias Fernandez missed the Spanish defeat through suspension and come back into consideration.

Along with Estrada, Jorge Valdivia came into the side last time to cover for the pair and he may again have to settle for a place on the bench.

Upfront, Mark Gonzalez was given the nod in Chile’s attack last time ahead of Humberto Suazo after his headed winner against Switzerland but Bielsa may decide to change things around.

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Holland v Slovakia preview

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Holland take on Slovakia for a place in the last eight of the World Cup on Monday at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium.

The Dutch have high hopes of finally landing an elusive World Cup crown and they head into their last 16 clash in serene form.

Bert van Marwijk’s side have yet to drop a point in the South Africa finals with wins over Denmark, Japan and Cameroon in Group E allowing the Oranje to believe that this summer’s tournament could be their chance to claim football’s greatest prize.

Only Argentina can match Holland’s run to the knockout stages and they will be seriously fancied to progress to the quarter-finals where they could meet either Brazil or Chile on Saturday.


Slovakia, however, will have something to say about such suggestions and Vladimir Weiss’ giant-killing side will be looking to repeat last Thursday’s feat where they knocked out Italy.

The Repre looked a long shot to reach the latter stages heading into their final Group F game against the Azzurri, but a shock 3-2 win over the reigning champions has made everyone stand up and take notice of the European outfit’s capabilities.

Holland, World Cup runners-up in the 1974 and 1978 finals, lost to Portugal at this stage of the tournament four years ago but they will feel confident they can see off the Slovaks with the wealth of talent at their disposal.

Star striker Robin van Persie opened his World Cup account in the Dutch’s last game against Cameroon while key man Arjen Robben made his bow at the South Africa finals as a substitute after overcoming a hamstring injury.


But Van Marwijk is expected to leave the latter on the bench for the Durban clash with Slovakia.

Robben, who hit the post in the win over the Indomitable Lions minutes after coming on, looks likely to watch on from the sidelines and may only been called upon if necessary with the Dutch looking to save the Bayern Munich winger for the last eight.

That means Real Madrid performer Rafael Van der Vaart is set to retain his place in Holland’s midfield while Khalid Boulahrouz and Gregory van der Wiel will battle it out for a place in the Dutch defence.

Slovakia, appearing in their first World Cup finals, could line up with the same side that stunned Italy last time out.

Juraj Kucka, Erik Jendrisek and Miroslav Stoch all shone in that game and Weiss will be looking to them to cause another upset against superior opposition.

The Slovaks will be without suspended Zdeno Strba, meaning the defensive midfield duties are likely to fall to Kamil Kopunek.

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Argentina see off Mexico

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Argentina set up a quarter-final meeting with Germany after a controversial 3-1 win over Mexico in their last 16 clash in Johannesburg.

Carlos Tevez controversially headed Argentina in front after 26 minutes when he nodded home Lionel Messi’s chip despite appearing to be offside.

Mexico players protested to the officials, but referee Roberto Rosetti awarded the goal after consulting his assistant.

Argentina were gifted their second goal on 33 minutes when Ricardo Osorio gave the ball away to Gonzalo Higuain and he scored his fourth goal of the tournament.

As the players left at half-time a number of players and coaching staff from both sides squared up to each other before they were finally sent down the tunnel.

Tevez grabbed his second of the contest on 52 minutes with a stunning effort from the edge of the box which flew past Mexico keeper Oscar Perez.

Javier Hernandez pulled a goal back for Mexico 19 minutes from time with a superb turn and finish, but it proved too little too late as Argentina booked their place in the last eight.

Until Tevez’s opener Mexico had looked the better side in this clash between the Latin Americans who had fought out a terrific contest at the same stage of the 2006 finals.

That went to extra time but once again Javier Aguirre’s men showed themselves to be a classy but unfortunate outfit.

Two incidents within the opening 10 minutes had Argentinian hearts in mouths. First Carlos Salcido crashed in a thunderous drive from 30 yards that Sergio Romero just touched onto the crossbar, then an equally terrific strike by Andres Guardado whisked agonisingly past the post.

For Argentina, Messi, still looking for his first goal of the tournament, had two efforts from similar positions on the left of the area, but one was blocked and the other easily held by Oscar Perez. Messi should perhaps have passed to an unmarked team-mate – maybe that elusive goal was haunting him.


Hernandez, who increasingly looks an astute signing by Sir Alex Ferguson, turned away from his marker and slammed a shot wide but then came Tevez’s offside goal and Mexico lost their heads.

First skipper Rafael Marquez earned himself a needless booking for showing his frustration, then there was real calamity when Osorio scuffed a pass across the edge of his own box, Higuain seized onto the ball and kept his cool to round Perez neatly and slide home.

Salcido raised Mexican hopes with another long-range strike, this time parried by Romero, before Angel di Maria and Tevez nearly scored but were kept at bay by desperate blocks.

Higuain really should have made it 3-0 but somehow the Real Madrid striker put a free header wide from only six yards out.

There was an unseemly melee around the officials as the teams left the pitch at half-time, with Maradona finding himself in the unusual position of peacemaker.

Any hopes Mexico had ended soon after the restart thanks to Tevez’s 52nd-minute blistering strike into the top corner from 25 yards out.


Tevez ran to the bench for a wild embrace with Maradona that seem to last an eternity.

It was left to Hernandez to rescue some pride for Mexico. The 22-year-old had just sent a header over despite being unmarked, but then he left Martin Demichelis standing with a superb turn and lashed the ball high past Romero to give Mexico a slim lifeline.

It probably shaded Tevez’s strike and will go down as one of the goals of the tournament.

Argentina shut up shop after that and Mexico barely had another sniff.

Messi’s increasingly desperate search for a goal continued as Perez denied him in injury time.

As for Maradona, his amazing story continues.

Argentina Team Statistics Mexico
3 Goals 1
2 1st Half Goals 0
6 Shots on Target 5
3 Shots off Target 10
3 Blocked Shots 2
2 Corners 5
11 Fouls 26
1 Offsides 2
0 Yellow Cards 1
0 Red Cards 0
79 Passing Success 81.8
24 Tackles 36
79.2 Tackles Success 77.8
49.7 Possession 50.3
41.2 Territorial Advantage 58.8

Man of the match: Carlos Tevez led the line brilliantly for Argentina and was a constant threat to the Mexico defence – he richly deserved his brace.

Goal of the match: Tevez’s second was an absolute beauty of a strike, it flew off his boot into the top corner leaving the goalkeeper with no chance.

Attempt of the match: Salcido tried a crack from long range in the early stages that rattled the crossbar, a great effort.

Moment of the match: The opening goal which was blatantly offside was shown on the big screen in Soccer City, prompting a heated exchange on the pitch.

Talking point: In a day where the use of technology has dominated proceedings, the debate will rage on after Argentina’s first, which was a poor decision.

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