Brazil have WC work to finish
Luiz Felipe Scolari (AFP)
Cape Town -The World Cup groups enter their sudden death phase on Monday with Brazil still having work to do to qualify for the last 16 while Netherlands and Chile battle for pole position.
Group A will be finished when Brazil play Cameroon in Brasilia, while simultaneously at 2000 GMT, Croatia play Mexico in Recife.
Netherlands play Chile in Sao Paulo at 1600 GMT to see who wins Group B - both have already qualified. At the same time, Australia take on Spain in Curitiba in a match of honour.
Even with Neymar and a host of other stars, World Cup favourites Brazil have struggled to reach cruising speed.
A 3-1 victory over Croatia and a goalless draw with Mexico has left them needing another point to make absolutely sure of progressing. If Mexico beat Croatia, Luis Felipe Scolari's side can even afford to lose - it would not look good though.
Cameroon, with no points and no goals scored, have been in disarray on and off the field and veteran striker Samuel Eto'o is a major doubt. Brazil are wary though.
"Their pride has been hurt and they will be looking to beat Brazil because it would be like winning the World Cup for them," said Brazil defender David Luiz.
Croatia coach Niko Kovac said his side's battle with Mexico is also a "final," which their 4-0 win over Cameroon helped them reach.
Mexico, who held on for a draw against Brazil thanks to the heroics of goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, only need another point to go through. But coach Miguel Herrera insists they are going for a win.
Scolari and Herrera want top place in Group A to avoid playing the top side in Group B.
- Group Nerves -
Similarly in Group B, the Dutch and Chileans are counting on Brazil to win their group and want to avoid them.
Holland will be without suspended Robin van Persie against Chile, whose coach Jorge Sampaoli said he is ready to risk suspension for star midfielder Arturo Vidal, who has a yellow card to his name, to get victory.
Rising tensions are clear to see.
Dutch coach Louis van Gaal is unhappy with the timing of the matches which means Brazil will know who has topped the other table when they start playing.
"I'm just assuming they (Brazil) will do their sporting duty -- but then again it's always a matter of discussion if you do that," said Van Gaal.
Sampaoli is torn between "protecting" Vidal and the "need to win the group because that will give us a way of looking to the future in a different manner."
Chile are at least boosted by having midfielder Charles Aranguiz back from injury.
Spain, humiliated by the Netherlands and Chile, will start their game against Australia without goalkeeper Iker Casillas nor Xavi Hernandez. Is this the start of the changing of the guard?
Xavi is expected to announce his retirement from international football and his exit from Barcelona after 16 years in the coming days.
"I don't think one game more or less is going to give him more recognition than he already has," Del Bosque said on Xavi missing out on a final World Cup appearance after 133 caps.
Australia also lost their first two games but coach Ange Postecoglou is going for a win to show that his young side has a strong future.
"We've got plenty of motivation," he said. "And the fact that we are putting out a young team tomorrow is not because we are trying to experiment, we are putting out the team we think can win the game," he said.
Australia will have to do without their record goalscorer Tim Cahill, who is suspended. Mark Bresciano and Mark Milligan are injury doubts.