Despite the Netherlands’ claims to the contrary, Denmark should offer few surprises or little resistance to the Dutch at Euro 2012.
The Netherlands have been keen to boost Denmark’s profile before the Group B clash between the two sides on Saturday.
Dutch defender John Heitinga has claimed that “Denmark could surprise” in the opening game of Group B, while the Netherlands’ manager Bert van Marwijk believes his Danish counterpart Morten Olsen knows everything about his team, stating “we have no secrets”.
But no matter what the Dutch say, Denmark’s should be a relatively simple hurdle for the 2010 World Cup runners-up.
Van Marwijk has a wealth of world-class players to choose from including Robin van Persie of Arsenal, Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben and Inter Milan’s Wesley Sneijder.
In fact, the strength of the Dutch squad becomes even clearer when the Bundesliga’s top-scorer from last season, Schalke’s Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (29 goals) and Rafael van der Vaart of Tottenham, have been on the bench in the Netherlands’ two most-recent warm-up games.
In comparison, Denmark have few genuine match winners.
Ajax Amsterdam’s up-and-coming playmaker Christian Eriksen and inconsistent striker Nicklas Bendtner, who was on loan last season from Arsenal to Sunderland, are the most likely to produce something a bit special for Olsen’s team.
In their two international friendlies before Euro 2012, Denmark were shambolic in the first half of a 3-1 loss to Brazil and uninspiring in a 2-0 win over Australia.
In almost obligatory fashion, Group B has acquired the title of ‘group of death’, although in this case the name may actually fit.
Germany and Portugal are the other two teams the Netherlands and Denmark must play at the European Championships.
The Netherlands, Germany and Portugal are all in FIFA’s top five rankings, while Denmark is 10th.
But after finishing second at the World Cup two years ago and topping their group at Euro 2008, only to be stunned by Russia in extra time at the quarter-final stage, the Dutch know that they cannot afford to miss another opportunity pass them by.
Robben, who should start against Denmark on the right-side of an attacking trio, does not want to hear any more excuses.
“Everything has already been said about our group,” Robben said.
“It’s the hardest one in the competition without a doubt, but we have to accept that if we want to be champions and pick off our rivals from day one.”
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