It's the battle of two little European countries (by size) that used to have vast colonial empires. But who remembers Vasco da Gama or Prince Henry the Navigator? Who remembers William of Orange? The Dutch and Portuguese duked it out for a while on the high seas as part of the Eighty Years War. The Eighty Years War ended around the same time as the Thirty Years War. Presumably today's match will just go 90 minutes. Maybe 120. The Thirty Years War was ended with the taking of penalties by ambassadors in Osnabruck to decide the winner. The Catholics were easily beaten to their left.
These two teams last met in the semifinals of the 2004 Euro Championships and the Portuguese prevailed at home, 2-1. After the tournament was over, the Dutch replaced coach Dick Advocaat with Marco Van Basten, and Van Basten changed the roster drastically. The Dutch responded by going unbeaten in qualifying and they were 2-0-1 in the first round.
The Portuguese lost the final of the 2004 Euro championships to Greece, but rebounded to qualify for the World Cup and coasted through their group with three wins, although they had a very easy draw, facing Mexico, Iran, and Angola.
Both teams have had success in the World Cup in the past, but not recently. Portugal reached the semis in 1966, but hadn't gotten out of the first round since. The Dutch reached the finals in 1974 and 1978. The Dutch lost in the semis in 1998 to Brazil on penalties and then didn't qualify in 2002.
There will be quite a contrast in names in this match. The Portuguese like to use single names for their players, such as Pauleta, Maniche, and Petit. As for the Dutch, there's a reason nearly everyone in the country is fluent in English, it's because the language is hard to pronounce. Witness Ruud Van Nistelrooij and Andre Ooijer.
And yet, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink has not come off the bench.
10 people have chosen the Dutch, 6 have the Portuguese. 11 of the 16 entries got the first three matches correct.
The winner of this match faces England in a quaterfinal match in Hamburg on Friday.