Tulips bloom time
From October to May, Holland suffered the first slump of Bert van Marwijk’s era since the coach’s appointment in 2008, with four defeats out of seven games. Most of them (against Germany, Bayern Munich and Bulgaria) however were meaningless friendlies, meaning criticism really failed to land at the Oranje’s door.
“The last two games before Euro 2012 will be our medicine”, stated Van Marwijk. He was right, as Holland easily beat Slovakia 2-0 and Northern Ireland 6-0. Do these victories mean that the side’s confidence is back? To be honest, it never went away.
Holland’s most recent friendlies were useful for Van Marwijk to settle upon his best starting eleven – and that is not the easiest thing to do due to the abundance of talented players in the Dutch squad. The coach has chosen Robin van Persie above Klaas-Jan Huntelaar as central striker, Ibrahim Afellay as the side’s left winger with Arjen Robben on the right, and 18-year-old Jetro Willems as left-back..
Nothing to lose
Denmark have nothing to lose in the hardest group at Euro 2012. This means Morten Olsen’s man can play freely, without any real pressure; and this could be dangerous for the Dutch.
A 2-0 victory over Australia in the country’s last warm-up clash has boosted the Danes’ confidence after poor displays in friendly defeats to Russia and Brazil. However, Denmark still seem to be unable to perform at their best against top class opponents.
Despite playing with an attacking looking 4-3-3, Denmark will focus on a solid defensive display and a one-chance-one-goal philosophy up front. The dramatic lack of a potent striker forces coach Olsen to develop the side’s game on the flanks, with two wingers in Krohn-Dehli and Rommedahl as the team’s most dangerous weapons; that is if the duo can turn in a consistent level of performance, which has often deserted them. And it is consistency that Denmark’s main creative outlet, Christian Eriksen, also still lacks..
Players to watch
Holland – Ibrahim Afellay: Despite only returning to action at the end of April, having been sidelined for eight months due to injury, Barcelona star Afellay was given a vote of confidence with inclusion in the Oranje squad. He has quickly shown himself to be in good form, becoming the regular option for Van Marwijk on the left flank in a 4-2-3-1. His exquisite technical skill, alongside a strong work ethic, combined with a good nose for goal (he scored a brace in Holland’s friendly against Northern Ireland), make him one of the Oranje’s most dangerous players.
Denmark – Michael Krohn-Dehli: Speedy winger Krohn-Dehli will come to face-to-face with former Ajax team-mates Maarten Stekelenburg, John Heitinga, Gregory van der Wiel and Huntelaar. Unlike those stars, the Dane failed to make the breakthrough at the Dutch giants, moving back home to Denmark. At Brondby, he developed into one of the country’s best players, becoming a regular in the national team; he scored four times in 2011. Krohn-Dehli’s speed on the right flank may make him a nightmare for inexperienced Dutch left-back Willems.
“After our star Wesley Sneijder said there is nothing to be worried about, I am worried”, joked a columnist at Dutch paper De Telegraaf. The statement sums up the situation clearly, with a lack of urgency looking to be Holland’s worst enemy. Under Van Marwijk, however, Holland have never failed to perform in the big games. Denmark are rightful underdogs and their fighting spirit may not be enough to take anything from this. Holland 3-0 Denmark.
Fonte: Inside Futbol