It didn't take a genius to predict these two results. Both the Netherlands and Brazil were heavy favourites; neither needed their best to get past their erstwhile opponents. Brazil were impressive if not inspirational, while the Dutch flirted with danger after going ahead with ease.
prediction: Netherlands 2-0 Slovakia - "The Dutch will score a few more"
result: Netherlands 2-1 Slovakia
A penalty for Slovakia in the 93rd minute wrecked this prediction for me. The Dutch looked good in the first half, Robben banging in a nice goal after a nice upfield pass by Sneijder. They could and should have been up by another at the half, but never looked like they needed to.
Netherlands 1-0 Slovakia
Ricardo | MySpace Video
Both teams had good chances at the start of the second half, and Dutch keeper Stekelenburg twice saved to preserve the lead, but the game never really got going. Jan Huntelaar came on for van Persie in the 79th; I don't remember a clear chance for RvP all game, but he never really had great delivery. Sneijder scored in the 84th and released Robben for his goal, but I'm still not convinced; Robben's sub Elia didn't impress either, unlike in earlier matches. It seems like Robben provides the spark for this team; without him they seem to lack drive.
They did what was needed to win, but it was nowhere near as convincing as the boys from Brazil below.
Predictable, but I also noticed that the Dutch don't celebrate as a team. On the second goal only three players came over to congratulate Sneijder and Kuyt. Contrast that with the goal celebrations of most other teams, often ending in a 15-man dogpile.
prediction: Brazil 2-1 Chile - "Brazil are quite solid at the back"
Dunga started both Alves and Maicon, Alves just ahead of Maicon on the right; why waste one of the best players in the world just because they both play at rightback?
Some early pressure from Chile, but then a nice goal from a corner and a brilliant, dare-I-say almost Brazilian-style goal on a counter:
Brazil 2-0 Chile
Ricardo | MySpace Video
A third in the second half put this on to bed, Robinho curling it in after nice work from Ramires.
Brazil played this game perfectly. They gave up very little at the back, and took their chances when they came. What was perhaps most impressive was the ease with which Brazil raised their game to the level necessary to dominate Chile over 90 minutes.