Netherlands v Uruguay:
Uruguay, the story so far:
To many the Netherlands are huge favourites in this tie, however Uruguay should not be forgotten about as they went through the group stage with ease. After perhaps one of the most dreary games of the finals, against France they flattened South Africa's hopes by stylishly beating them 3-0. And in the final group game they beat a strong Mexico side, who had just beaten France comprehensively, by one Luis Suarez goal.
After comprehensively getting through the group-stages they faced a plucky South Korean side. Although they were a technically gifted team who did worry Uruguay for a while, Luis Suarez's superb goal proved enough to send them out. From the South Africa game onwards Uruguay have impressed me with their superb defence, tough midfield and Suarez's dogged work-rate and with Forlan carrying on from a superb club season. In the South Korea game Uruguay only attacked when they really needed to otherwise trying to contain their opponents. Overall they deserved this victory, few had complaints. However their next game was to be quite a different type of victory.
Ghana had got through to the quarter-final as the only African team and therefore gained most of Africa and the neutrals support. In the early stages Uruguay looked the slightly better team until suddenly Ghana started playing some quick attractive football without producing a goal. That was until Sulley Muntari's long-range strike on the cusp of half-time gave the Black Stars a well deserved lead. As the game went on the whole of Africa must have thought their dream would come true that was until Diego Forlan's free-kick made it 1-1. With no time at the end of extra-time left Suarez made a great save on the line, only it was with both hands. He was sent-off and Ghana's Asamoah Gyan had the chance to win the game with the penalty. He hit the bar and the game went to penalties and Uruguay won. Perhaps every team is deserving of a little luck and this was certainly Uruguay's.
The bad news is that both Luis Suarez and Jorge Fucile are suspended for this game and will mean Uruguay will require some new players to come in and perform to the level that their compatriots have already. Suarez who scored 49 goals in 48 games for Ajax last season will be a huge miss and one which many in the Netherlands will be happy about whilst others will want to see him play against many of his team-mates. The responsibility for goals shifting between Forlan, Cavani and Abreu.
Uruguay started the World Cup with a 3-5-2 but it has since moved to a 4-3-3. They have two galloping wing-backs in Alvaro and Maxi Pereira who provide width and a constant threat. With three up-front they attack well as a whole unit and keeping the ball well high up the pitch.
So far the Netherlands have not been a particular aesthetically pleasing team, they got out of their group with relative ease and quite comfortably beat Slovakia in the second-round without ever really impressing. Their stand-out result so far is knocking out the five time winners Brazil. After starting the game badly and conceding a poor goal they made an impressive comeback due mainly to some awful defending by Brazil.
Arjen Robben has definitely made a difference in that they have someone very direct and may become slightly too dependent on him from now on. Against Brazil he tormented Michel Bastos throughout and angered Robinho with his theatrics. Eventually getting Felipe Melo so infuriated that Melo trod on his leg and got sent-off. Making the game that bit easier for the Dutch. However they had numerous chances to kill the game off at 2-1 namely when Robben, ready to shoot, had the ball stolen away from him from Dani Alves. Defensively they improved vastly against Brazil later on in the game and valiantly kept them out. It is going to be a tough test against the Uruguayans, however having Robben fit makes such a difference to the way they play. Fucile's absence too will mean that Martin Caceres will most likely cover meaning Robben will have a chance to run at a player who has had little match action recently. I expect the Dutch trio of Robben, Sneijder and Van Persie to be too much for the Uruguayan defence and the two central midfelders