This World Cup has separated itself nicely into cliques, like a suburban high school.
Yesterday was the kids from the wrong side of the tracks. Today was the exuberant ones. Tomorrow are the practical, pragmatic group. And finally, Tuesday, we will welcome the underachievers to our TV screens.
Brazil and Netherlands have garnered similar kind of press during their group play. They have been safe, secure, and uninspired. Some even went so far as to call this Netherlands team "German." Trust me, there is no bigger insult for the Dutch than that.
On Monday, these two contenders are playing some divinely inspired opposition.
At 9:00 am Central, it will be Netherlands against Slovakia, a team that had a bolt of inspiration help it see off the defending champions. That's all well and good, but really, Slovakia is the perfect fodder for the Dutch - a well-organized European side with limited talent. With in-form Sneijder and Robben back in the Dutch lineup for the entire 90 minutes, all Slovakia can hope for is a few more bolts of this divine inspiration. Let's hope that well is not dry.
At 1:30 pm Central time, we have the safe, uninspired Brazil taking on the fast-attacking, aggressive and stylish Chileans. Chile had all of their opposition back on its heels in group play, but nonetheless lost one to Spain. Sounds like a real test for Brazil, except it probably won't be. No one plays the Brazilian game better than Brazil. Chile certainly does not. This is the perfect match-up and a potential confidence-builder for the Brazilians.
Prognosis: Netherlands and Brazil in 5