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Sunday, June 27, 2010
Updated: June 28, 8:45 AM ET
Netherlands-Slovakia preview notes


Posted by ESPN Stats & Information

Netherlands versus Slovakia, Monday
Durban Stadium -- Durban

Storylines

• After upending Italy to advance to the round of 16, Cinderella Slovakia looks to pull off another stunning upset.

• The Netherlands is one of only two teams that swept their three games in group play. The other was Argentina.

• Arjen Robben: The Bayern Munich star made a cameo appearance against Cameroon after missing the first two games with a hamstring injury. Asked whether he was likely to start against Slovakia, Robben said: "You have to be realistic and honest to yourself. I know I can do better and that I am not fit yet." Coach Bert van Marwijk was also delighted to have his most creative player available again. "I'm really pleased he played for 20 minutes and nothing happened [to the injury]," he said. "I expect he can play longer at the next match, but I'm not sure if he will start."

• Nothing to lose for Slovakia: "We came here as newcomers and outsiders," Robert Vittek said. "But we have already surprised once, and we want to do it again. We really have moved the limits of Slovak football somewhere else. We couldn't have dreamed about this. … We showed everybody we are capable of achieving this."

Series history

• The teams have not met since Slovakia became an independent nation.

What to look for

• Can Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart play together? The two Dutch playmakers seem to be crowding each other out in the Oranje's midfield, with Sneijder seeming to flourish when van der Vaart goes out of the game.

• Oranje yellow-card jeopardy: Six anticipated Dutch starters are on yellow cards: Robin van Persie, van der Vaart, Dirk Kuyt, Nigel de Jong, Gregory van der Wiel and Giovanni van Bronckhorst.

• With his three goals in group play, Vittek is a surprising contender for the Golden Shoe award. He didn't score during nine qualifying games for Slovakia.

From the research room

• The Netherlands has won its past seven international fixtures and is unbeaten in 22 games overall.

• Slovakia was the first team to score three goals against Italy in a World Cup match since Germany and Brazil did it four days apart in the 1970 semifinals and final.

• Oranje midfielder Mark van Bommel was the most effective ball winner during group play, winning 35 of his 42 challenges (83 percent) -- that is, tackles, fouls, aerial duels, etc.