World Cup: Netherlands vs. Slovakia (Matchday Commentary)

Slovakia Netherlands

A busy and controversial weekend of World Cup action has come and gone, but there is plenty of action left in the Round of 16.

World Cup darkhorse Netherlands takes on Slovakia in an all-European clash (ESPN/ESPN3.com, 10:00 a.m.) in Durban. The winner of this morning's game will be rewarded with a matchup against the winner of this afternoon's meeting of Brazil and Chile. Arjen Robben is in the starting lineup today for the Netherlands for the first time all tournament.

Slovakia took down defending champions Italy to progress from Group F after a stumbling start to the tournament against New Zealand. The Slovakians will look to take advantage of a questionable Dutch defense to spring the upset.

I'll be providing commentary throughout today's match, so please feel free to follow along and share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below. Enjoy the match.

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FINAL – Obvious concerns in the Dutch defense, but that can be left for another day. That's all from me for now — stay tuned for World Cup coverage from SBI, including this afternoon's Brazil match.

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FINAL – Too little to late, as the Oranje are victorious for their fourth straight. Imagine if Mucha hadn't made that error?

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FINAL – Vittek dispatches the penalty, and that's the last kick of the game. Only means something to Vittek because he becomes the all-time leading World Cup goalscorer for the Slovaks, and joint top-scorer at the World Cup with Gonzalo Higuain. Netherlands 2, Slovakia 1.

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93rd minute – PENALTY to Slovakia.

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92nd minute – Sneijder comes off for Ibrahim Affelay. Final whistle seconds away.

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90th minute – Dutch deserve the win and spot in the quarterfinal. Vittek had two chances for an equalizer, but left them begging. Stekelenberg came up big in a three minute stretch after a very quiet game, keeping the clean sheet. Three minutes of injury time before this one's in the books.

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88th minute – Mucha to blame on that second Dutch goal, never needed to come out so far with Kuyt marked by Durica. Very calm and composed, on the ball to Sneijder to put the game away.

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87th minute – Double swap for Slovakia, obviously too late. Hamsik comes off for Sapara, and Kajubko comes on for Zabavnik, attacker for a defender.

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86th minute – This is shaping up to the fourth straight win for the Netherlands, and a meeting with either Chile or Brazil in the quarterfinals.

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85th minute – That's surely the game, and Skrtel is booked in the aftermath, upset about the free kick. Perhaps if he was back defending, instead of complaining, Slovakia would only be a goal down.

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83rd minute – GOAL Netherlands. And that's it, thanks to a defensive breakdown. Mucha comes out after a long free kick, but the Liverpool man beats him to it, controls the ball, squares to an on-rushing Sneijder who slots it into the empty net. Netherlands 2, Slovakia 0.

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81st minute – Slovakian coach receiving a lecture from the referee. His side still have a chance in this, just need to find that one goal.

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79th minute – Van Persie comes off for Huntelaar, who scored the winner against Cameroon.

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78th minute – Vittek is onside once again, but he can't control the ball and scoops it over the ball. Another decent chance, as van der Wiel kept the forward on. One or two questions from the Dutch defense.

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77th minute – Dutch knocking the ball around, but turn it over. Slovakia lacking that quality in the final third to shock the men in Orange.

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75th minute – Slovakia is one Dutch breakdown away from equalizing and taking this to extra time. Something the Netherlands wants to avoid at all costs.

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73rd minute – Kuyt with a long range effort that Jan Mucha is once again equal to. Any more goals in this one?

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72nd minute – Kopunek, Slovakia's substitute, goes into the book for a challenge on Elia.

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70th minute – Eljero Elia comes on for Robben. 70 minutes and a goal for the Bayern Munich midfielder. 20 minutes for the Dutch to hold the lead.

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69th minute – Two great saves from Stekelenberg keep the Dutch on top here. Warning signs that they need another goal. Slovakia riding the momentum of those opportunities.

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67th minute – Another save!. Vittek is left alone in an onside position, and the ball comes to him from the midfield. He pivots, but only smashes straight at Stekelenberg, who shows off his shot-stopping skills again.

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67th minute – Great save from Stekelenberg. Slovakia cut open the Dutch defense, and Stoch comes across the top of the box, unleashes a shot that the 'keeper sees late but palms over.

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65th minute – The Dutch break after a poor set piece from Stoch, though Sneijder elects to shoot instead of dish off to van Persie. Still 1-0.

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63rd minute – A long range effort from Slovakia forces Stekelenberg into a full stretch, but it's always going wide. Dutch content to nap through the rest of this, at least it looks that way from here.

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59th minute – Van Persie delivers a hard free kick, right at Mucha, who punches away. Good hands from the 'keeper.

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58th minute – Sneijder unlocks the Slovakian defense with a sensational ball to Robben, but he can't hit a good enough cross to Van Persie.

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56th minute – A brief stoppage for a Slovakian injury, after a harsh challenge from Robin Van Persie.

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52nd minute – Signs of life from this one, and Slovakia has Mucha to thank for being only down by one.

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50th minute – GREAT Save from Mucha. Robben dances in on the left, crosses to the six yard box, and Mucha's face intervenes on the ensuing shot.

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49th minute – Just wide from Robben. After a poor clearance from Durica, Robben comes in, shoots from his left, but Mucha is equal to the task and pushes the shot wide.

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47th minute – Rather tepid start to the half, neither side looking to venture forward much. Netherlands looking to lull Slovakia to sleep, then strike?

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45th minute – Netherlands kick off the second half.

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HALFTIME – Netherlands are in control, but need to add to the scoreline. Slovakia obviously didn't study video of Robben, who loves to cut in on his left, and were punished for it.

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HALFTIME – First half comes to an end. Netherlands 1, Slovakia 0.

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44th minute – Some signs of life from the Dutch, moving and getting forward. Van Bommel sends a cross in, but Van Persie misses well wide.

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42nd minute – Any late goals before the half? Play on the field suggests no. Slovakia a bit tentative, despite the fact they need a goal.

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39th minute – Complacency is creeping into the Netherlands side, a little to comfortable for a one goal lead. Slovakia has the quality to hit back, though they more resemble the side from their first two group games than the team that beat Italy.

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36th minute – Ten minutes to go until the half. Slovakia not under immense pressure at the moment, though are certainly aware how quickly the Dutch can strike. As long as the score remains close, Slovakia will fancy having a go for it.

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33rd minute – The Netherlands have looked a touch nervy on set pieces. Best chances for Slovakia will come from there.

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31st minute – Robben with a yellow card for a handball, sticking his arm out to stop the ball. Silly move there.

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29th minute – Best play for Slovakia has come from Weiss on the left flank, and he's seen none of the ball in the past 15 minutes.

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26th minute – Mucha clears a Dutch corner. Netherlands with most of the ball in Slovakia's half, though few dangerous chances at the moment.

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24th minute – Netherlands are pressing forward a bit, looking to maintain possession and build on their lead.

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22nd minute – Let's see if Slovakia can come up with a response. Weiss has been lively on the left, looking to threaten the Dutch defense with his darting runs.

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20th minute – After navigating through the group stages mostly without him, Robben pops up and shows what he can do. Plenty of time left for Slovakia to regroup.

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18th minute – GOAL NETHERLANDS. And that's something out of nothing. Robben gets a long ball from out of the back, outruns a defender, and simply cuts back across the Slovakian defense and scores from outside the box with a hard, low shot driven into the net. A fine, fine goal.

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16th minute – Things have gone a bit quiet in this one. Netherlands lacking a real urgency, and the Slovkas have to be happy with the first 15 minutes of the game.

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14th minute – On paper, this could be the biggest mismatch of the second round. Slovakia has shown an ability to surprise people, however and has come out showing a bit of attacking flair.

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12th minute – Slovakia in possession, looking a bit more uncertain of themselves after a bright start.

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10th minute – Save Mucha. Van Persie with a brilliant run to suck in the defense, lays off to Sneijder who can't beat the Slovakian 'keeper. Could have done better with that chance.

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7th minute – Close for Van Persie. Kuyt lofts in a chance towards the Arsenal striker, who gets a header on it but it's deflected out for a corner.

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5th minute – Hamsik has a good effort, but it goes wide left of the Dutch net. Stekelenberg had it covered all the way.

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3rd minute – Slovakia have come here to attack, a tactic that brings an element of risk to this game. Sneijder fires over the top, way over Mucha's net.

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2nd minute – Coach's son is looking lively early on, as Vladimir Weiss has come out attacking the Dutch. Weiss dishes off to Jendrisek who can't hit the target from outside the 18.

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1st minute – Game on! Slovakia get the game going underneath the arch of Durban at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

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PRE-GAME – Players are on the pitch, anthems are over. Seconds away from kickoff. Will the Netherlands prove the doubters wrong and put together a run in South Africa?

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PRE-GAME – Here are the lineups:

NETHERLANDS

—————-Van Persie——————

—Kuyt———Sneijder——-Robben—

——–De Jong——Van Bommel——–

Van Bronkhurst–Mathijsen–Heitinga–Van der Wiel

————Stekelenberg—————–

SLOVAKIA

———-Vittek——Jendrisek—–

——————Hamsik——————-

—-Stoch————————-Weiss—

——————Kucka———————-

Zabavnik—-Skrtel—-Durica—-Pekarik

——————Mucha—————–

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22 Responses to World Cup: Netherlands vs. Slovakia (Matchday Commentary)

  1. Gus Keri says:

    Robben is back

  2. A Guest says:

    Weiss is skilled, but dirty.

  3. HoboMike says:

    Does anyone watch any film anymore? Robben has shown that he has no right foot and loves to cut in on his left. So the defender plays him….to go left. Wake up.

  4. jts says:

    Lot less comments after the US departure.

    If the soccer community (as represented by this blog) is diminished I beleive that the overall country’s attention will seriously drop off.

    Dutch in complete control. I have the feeling that they could score if needed but are now laying back.

    Sub Robben to avoid injury/fatigue?

  5. Gus Keri says:

    This drop off is expected. Many people were following soccer for the first time. What left now are the true soccer fans.

    Also contibuted the fact that this game is between less popular teams than the ones on the weekend and it is happenning on a Monday morning.

  6. Adriano says:

    The knockout stages are showing us how completely underclassed a lot of these teams are.

    The Netherlands are toying with Slovakia.

  7. Adriano says:

    Robben comes in again, and they push him to his left again.

    What a save!

  8. Gus Keri says:

    “Boring Orange”, Derek Rae said it today

    I never thought I will live to hear it

  9. Adriano says:

    They are incredibly boring to watch. I almost want to go mow the front lawn.

  10. Adriano says:

    You have the entire goal available, and you shoot it directly at the keeper.

    How about trying to place the ball for once? Anyone?

  11. canchon says:

    I have the feeling that Slovakia could round the keeper and have a wide open net and he’d shoot it wide. Netherlands are just sleeping through this one until they decide to get the second goal.

  12. canchon says:

    No kidding. Someone should tell the strikers that instead of drilling it as hard as they can to the goalie, placement might be important.

  13. Adriano says:

    Spot on, the Netherlands are just toying with Slovakia.

  14. Adriano says:

    Finishing school.

    Sign Slovakia up.

  15. Gus Keri says:

    In every world cup, I look forward to watching Brazil vs. Holland because of the jogo bonito. This time arround, I am not so optimistic.

  16. canchon says:

    They can join the USMNT there.

  17. canchon says:

    …and there’s the rope-a-dope. Slovakia outclassed.

  18. Adriano says:

    What are the Slovakian players yelling at the official for? They decided not to play defense, not him.

  19. canchon says:

    Elia there just juggled the ball 2-3 times in the box waiting for his opportunity, looking like he was in the park waiting for a pick-up game.

  20. Adriano says:

    They both need it.

  21. canchon says:

    This could set up quite a sweet matchup between Brazil and the Netherlands in the next round. I still remember the amazing game between the two in 1998 – with Holland tying it late and Taffarel saving two penalties to put Brazil through.

  22. Gus Keri says:

    The referee should have waited few seconds before blowing the whistle. Until after the restart.