The Netherlands vs. Uruguay is the least-sexy of the two World Cup semifinal matches. But it's not without intrigue.
The Dutch haven't been spectacular yet, but they've been effective. Against Brazil, even trailing by a goal, they never panicked and never seemed out of the game. Wesley Sneijder has been a beast all Cup. Arjen Robben may have done his best Greg Louganis impersonation (and in the process set back soccer 10 years) against Brazil, but that doesn't make him any less terrifying on the ball. Once a weakness, Maarten Stekelenburg is in the running for starting goalkeeper on many "World Cup Best XI" lists (he's also on the short list for the "Most Vowels in a Name at the World Cup XI").
Uruguay really snuck up on everyone. They were the last team to qualify for the Cup (beating Costa Rica in a two-game playoff) and were picked by many (me included) to not make it out of the group stage. But the flaxen-haired Diego Forlan and the "Fingertips of God" have conspired to keep them chugging along. I should also mention that Fernando Muslera's transformation from 23-year-old relative unknown 'keeper to taunting monster between the pipes has been nothing sort of amazing.
There will be several missing players. Uruguay will be without striker Luis Suarez (who got a card for his blatant cheating/heroic save against Ghana) and fullback Jorge Fucile (accumulation of yellow cards). Holland will miss holding midfielder Nigel de Jong and Gregory Van Der Weil (both for accumulation of yellows). Uruguay's captain and key central defender Diego Lugano seems likely to miss the game with knee damage, while Dutch striker Robin Van Persie may play despite an injury to his left arm.Prediction:
While Uruguay have proven tough to break down and decent in the attacking third when they have to be, I think Robben and Sneijder will be too much to handle. This won't be a goal-fest, but it should be more interesting than the participants might lead you to believe. Netherlands 2, Uruguay 1.
Who do you think has the skill and the steel to move on in this game?