Riding high off of their opening 5-1 win over Spain, the Netherlands took the pitch against Australia last week and expected to dominate. The Socceroos put up a bit more fight than expected, however, and it was only thanks to two second half goals that the Netherlands won 3-2 and secured their spot in the round of 16.
Ron Vlaar's side will have to face Chile today in a match that will determine nothing aside from which team gets first and which gets second. But don't expect a dull affair. For all of the fanfare surrounding the Netherlands -- and it is very deserved, their 5-1 thrashing of Spain was impressive, and their win against Australia showed flaws but also some resilience -- Chile may actually be the better team right now. They've scored five goals and only allowed one thanks to a flowing style that can wreak havoc with any back line.
So Vlaar should see some action today, and fans of the Oranje must be hoping that the Vlaar who played against Spain shows up rather than the one they saw against Australia. Against the defending champions, Vlaar could have made a case to be considered the man of the match (though he was never going to get it in a match that saw his side score five times). Against Australia, he looked a bit more shaky. Still the best of the Dutch center backs, we saw a few more errors like we'd seen throughout the season with Aston Villa.
The Dutch will likely be without Bruno Martins Indi today, and they may very well got with a 4-3-3 rather than the odd hybrid three-center-backs system they have been using. Regardless, Vlaar should be expected to get the start.
Given that a draw or a loss will mean second place for Chile, expect them to throw caution to the wind and charge headlong at the Dutch defense. If the previous two matches have taught us anything, that means they're likely to score a few. So this may actually be the best test yet to see if Vlaar can marshal the Dutch back line and make them something that has a chance to advance very far.