The Netherlands have been absolutely imperious at the 2014 World Cup finals so far, winning all three of their group matches.
The Oranje kicked off their campaign in Brazil with a 5-1 demolition of Spain in Group B in what has been arguably the best performance of the tournament so far.
Then in their next match, Louis van Gaal’s side edged past Australia 3-2 – they actually had to come from behind, but they did that smoothly and without panicking.
The Dutch were not at their fluent best against Chile in their final Group B game on Monday, but scored two late goals to wrap up a 2-0 victory and progress to the last 16 as group winners.
The Chile match demonstrated how flexible and pragmatic the Dutch can be under Van Gaal, as they stopped the South American side with a five-man defence in the first half and then opened up in the second period to eventually pick up the points.
The Netherlands will now face Mexico for a place in the quarter-finals and will be favourites to win.
However, star man Arjen Robben, who has been one of the most consistent players in the World Cup, believes that it is Germany and not them who are the favourites to win the tournament.
‘Germany are my favourites for the World Cup’, Goal.com quotes him as saying. ‘They are playing very well’.
Robben, formerly at Chelsea and now at Bayern Munich, is understandably trying to lower the pressure and is being modest, but Germany do have a strong team that can go all the way.
However, Die Mannschaft have yet to confirm their place in the last 16. Having annihilated Portugal 4-0 in their opening Group G clash, Germany suffered a scare against Ghana in their next fixture and were held to a 2-2 draw.
Although Joachim Low’s side’s performance improved in the second half after the introduction of Miroslav Klose and Bastian Schweinsteiger against the African giants, their defence needs to improve.
Germany are still expected to progress to the last 16 as they need just a draw in their final match against the USA, but they need to step up their game against the better teams they will face in the knockout stages.
As for the Netherlands, Robben can try as much he wants to lower down expectations, but he cannot run away from the fact that they are now one of the top candidates to win the World Cup.