The Netherlands have traversed some tough challenges in their reign as UFWC champions, but they could face one of their stiffest opponents yet when they face Slovakia in the first knockout round of the World Cup.
The Slovakians, having just claimed one of the countries most famous victories by beating the reigning FIFA World Cup champions Italy 3-2, eliminating them in the process, will be keen to keep their fairytale on course. They qualified for the World Cup as winners of their group, showing they they are no slouches. They also have the great resource that is Robert Vittek, who is currently the joint-top goalscorer in the World Cup with three goals, so there is reason to suggest that they should be shorter odds to win the UFWC and advance to the quarter finals then they are now: they are 7/2 to achieve such a defeat, while the Netherlands are only 1/6. This match will also mark Slovakia’s first UFWC match as an independant nation, following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1993.
The Netherlands, meanwhile, have advanced to the knockout stages of the World Cup with a 100% record, and having only conceded one goal: a penalty. So far they have proven why they are UFWC champions, and they will also be hoping to add the FIFA World Cup to their trophy cabinet at the end of the tournament. They will be boosted by Arjen Robben’s run out against Cameroon, and the fact that they were able to rest key players like Robin Van Persie for this match, while Slovakia were forced into a full 90 minutes of gruelling action against Italy.
Whoever leaves this match as UFWC champions to advance into the quarter finals, there will be a guaranteed title unification at the end of the tournament in the final, and one of these teams can take a big step to achieving that goal with victory in Durban.