Fifa World Cup 2014

Avoiding Brazil the name of the game in Sao Paulo

Equation is complicated by the fact that group A's final standings remain equally unsettled

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 June, 2014, 11:22pm
UPDATED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 1:12am

The Netherlands and Chile will fight it out for top spot in group B at Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo today, hoping they can avoid a fearsome round two assignment against five-time winners Brazil.

Both teams have won their opening two games, putting them into the last 16 with a maximum six points each and sending reigning champions Spain and Australia crashing out.

Only goal difference separates the two, with the Netherlands narrowly top following their 5-1 win over Spain and 3-2 scrap against Australia.

Brazil are favoured to qualify top in group A, meaning they will face whoever is second in group B - a matchup neither the Netherlands nor Chile will relish.

I needed to change something at half-time to boost their confidence and change their mindset. Fortunately it turned out OK, but it could have turned out differently
Louis van Gaal

But with the outcome of group A - where Brazil, Mexico and Croatia are separated by just one point - far from clear, group B's winners could still end up facing the hosts.

Bayern Munich's Arjen Robben and Manchester United's Robin van Persie have lit up this World Cup, with three goals each, and more will be needed if the Netherlands are to reach their second final in a row.

Coach Louis van Gaal, who will link up with Van Persie at Old Trafford next season, will be looking for more solidity after some distinctly worrying moments against Australia.

Against one of the tournament's least fancied teams, the Netherlands were trailing 2-1 early in the first half before Van Persie and Memphis Depay spared their blushes.

"I needed to change something at half-time to boost their confidence and change their mindset," said Van Gaal. "Fortunately it turned out OK, but it could have turned out differently. To recover and correct that situation showed a lot of mental strength."

The Dutch may find themselves up against an under-strength Chile after Juventus star Arturo Vidal (who is on a yellow card) and Internacional's Charles Aranguiz skipped training on Friday. They both left the field injured during the 2-0 win over Spain.

But Vidal said he had no concerns about picking up a second yellow card which would earn him a one-match ban.

"This squad is showing how great it is and that's why I'm not thinking about that yellow card, nor that I could be suspended.

"I just hope to play and be in the group, that's the mentality of this group."

Midfielder Carlos Carmona, who could be promoted to the starting line-up if either Vidal or Aranguiz is ruled out, said the squad was strong enough to cope with their absence.

"Eventual suspensions are something normal in these tournaments, but we have players who can replace anyone in such an eventuality," said the 27-year-old Atalanta player.