Netherlands vs. Brazil

When » Friday, 10 a.m.

Where » Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth

Player to watch: Robin van Persie, Netherlands » Does it come as any surprise that there are reports of infighting among the Dutch? Van Persie, who was reported to be angry about getting subbed against Slovakia, needs to close his mouth and open up his scoring account. That’s the only way for Holland to overcome its historical tendency to self-destruct.

Compelling storyline » There were signs of the return of joga bonito for the Brazilians in their win over Chile. The underwhelming Dutch defense will have its hands full with Kaká and Robinho — and thank goodness because the last thing the World Cup needs is another Brazil championship just because the rest of the tournament favorites stink.

X-factor » There’s so much history between these teams — memorable World Cup meetings have taken place in 1974, 1994 and 1998 — but the Dutch have come out on the wrong end of the last two. They’ll have to rattle the Brazilian defense early if they are to prevent it from turning into three in a row.

The Examiner predicts » It’s too easy to predict a dominant walkover by Brazil. The Dutch put aside their petty squabbles and put up a fight. A 2-2 draw but Brazil wins in penalties.

Uruguay vs. Ghana

When » Friday, 2:30 p.m.

Where » Soccer City, Johannesburg

Player to watch: Diego Forlán, Uruguay » His long blond hair and dynamic playmaking abilities make him unmistakable on the field, and his redemption story after flopping with Manchester United makes him easy to write about in the English-speaking press. But his partnership with Luis Suárez is why La Celeste is capable of conjuring goals out of thin air.

Compelling storyline » Ghana carries the hopes of the entire African continent, which would seem like a burden if it wasn’t the youngest team in the World Cup, one made up of players who won the under-20 world championship just last year. There’s precedent for how far this team has come.

X-factor » Ghana hasn’t yet found an offensive rhythm — both of its goals against the United States came via defensive lapses. Asamoah Gyan and Kevin-Prince Boateng need to establish themselves early against captain Diego Lugano and a Uruguayan defense that has allowed just one goal in four matches.

The Examiner predicts » The African dream will come to a cruel end as the Uruguayans continue to play physical, imposing defense while Ghana struggles because of yellow-card absences of key contributors Andre Ayew and Jonathan Mensah. Forlán scores the game-winner. Uruguay 2-0.