The First Blood
Group B: Holland vs Denmark
Friday, 09 June 2012
1800(local time); 1200(EST); 2130(IST)
Stadion Metalist , Kharkiv
The first game in the “Group of Death” of the most recent edition of the European Championship will be on its way today at the Metalist stadium in Kharkiv. The two teams that will be battling out today are both ranked among the top 10 in the world according to the latest FIFA rankings. A high adrenaline game is definitely to be expected between the 1988 Euro Cup Champions, the Dutch and the 1992 Euro Cup Champions, the Danes. Netherlands are definitely one of the favorites to win this year’s championship, while Denmark will try to bring on an upset in order to enhance their chances of progression from the group stage. The last time these two faced was in 2010 World Cup, when goals by Daniel Agger (own goal) and Dirk Kuyt helped the Dutch to get obtain a 2-0 victory over their Scandinavian opponents.
The Dutch will be banking on their fantastic forward line up starring Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben with Ibrahim Affelay, Wesley Sneijder, Mark Van Bommel and Nigel de Jong providing an excellent support in the midfield. However, the biggest concern for the Oranje remains their defensive line up. They will be missing out Joris Mathijsen, the experienced center back due to a hamstring injury he faced against a friendly with Bulgaria few days back. Erik Pieters, the regular starting left-back was also ruled out from the tournament due to injury. It will be interesting to see how they can handle the Dane attack in absence of these regular players.
Denmark, on the other hand, will have their full team at hand, except regular goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen, who received an injury during a friendly with Brazil. Denmark will definitely be banking on Christian Eriksen, Dennis Rommedahl and of course, Niklas Bendtner for strengthening their attack. The key point to note is how these three can utilize the absence of regular players in the Dutch defense and score. Daniel Agger, who had probably his best season with Liverpool this year, will be looking to block Van Persie from scoring.
Denmark came into the tournament on a high note, with winning 6 of the 8 games in the qualifying round. Although they lost to both Russia and Brazil recently, the last game played by them was against Australia, when they brought home a clear 2-0 victory. Denmark topped Group H at the qualifying round, even ahead of their current group-mates Portugal.
Last 5 games: WWLLW
Netherlands qualified for the European Championship by making it to the top of Group E with 9 victories out of the 10 games. Their recent losses against Bayern Munich and Bulgaria (at their home ground) might be shocking, but their glorious victories over the last two games before coming for this tournament against Slovakia and Northern Ireland will surely regain their confidence.
Last 5 games: WLLWW
Teams and Formations
Netherlands: (4-2-3-1): Stekelenburg, Van der Wiel, Heitinga, Vlaar, Willems, De Jong, Van Bommel, Robben, Sneijder, Afellay, Van Persie
Manager: Bert van Marwijk
Denmark: (4-2-3-1): Anderson, Jacobsen, Kjaer, Agger, S. Poulsen, C. Poulsen, Kvist, Rommedahl, Eriksen, Krondelhi, Bendtner
Manager: Morten Olson
Match Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia)
Assistant Referees: Primoz Arhar (Slovenia) and Matej Zunic (Slovenia)
“They say they’re going to be underdogs and I think so as well, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy for us.”
Bert van Marwijk doesnt think it will be easy.
“I’m actually quite jealous of the Dutch as we’re not in their shoes. The Dutch say that if they don’t win the title then that will be a tremendous disappointment; we can’t say that. What we can say is that if we get through this group then we’ve already won.”
Morten Olsen the Danish manager outlines the difference in targets.