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After Italy, Holland want more of the same against France

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 13 Jun 2008

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Holland are looking for a repeat dose of the same magic that crushed world champions Italy when they take on a France team with their backs to the wall on Friday.

Marco van Basten’s Dutch oozed class in their 3-0 drubbing of the Azzurri in their opening Euro 2008 Group C tie on Monday, while France produced a drab display in their goalless draw against Romania.

A win for the Dutch will see them into the quarter-finals while France are desperate for the three points to breathe much needed life into their Euro 2008 camapign.

Dutch coach Marco ban Basten received a boost on Thursday with news that Real Madrid winger Arjen Robben was available having recovered quicker than expected from the groin strian that kept him out of Monday’s win.

“I’m happy he’s fit. It’s not easy bringing him back into a winning team but it’s a luxury problem to have,” van Basten told a press conference at Lausanne’s Olympic museum.

Van Basten added: “We’ve played a good game on Monday but it’s only one game. We have to keep our feet on planet Earth. We know that France are a serious opponent with a lot of experience.

“I wasn’t surprised with what happened to France against Romania. We came up against Romania in qualifiying and lost and drew against them. They don’t’ give you a lot of space. We know all about them.”

France manager Raymond Domenech will be praying the country’s top scorer Thierry Henry, who missed the Romanian stalemate, will have recovered from minor injury in time to face the resurgent Oranje.

The Barcelona striker saw out 45 minutes of a practice game against a local side at Chatel-Saint-Denis on Tuesday, as did France captain Patrick Vieira, who also missed the opener with a left thigh injury.

Both are key figures whose experience can steady a France ship that is heading for the rocks unless it can produce something special in Berne.

A win is a must for the 2000 winners if they are not to face an early flight back to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.

Holland in contrast approach this second instalment of the group of death with their confidence sky high after goals from Ruud van Nistelrooy, the brilliant Wesley Sneijder and Giovannni van Bronckhorst lifted them to the top of the group.

Despite that first win over Italy in 30 years and more especially the manner in which it was executed Sneijder, who turned 24 on Monday, was like van Basten exercising caution.

“It was a great result and the fans may celebrate but we still have nothing,” the midfielder said.

“Our goal is still to reach and win the final, and therefore we need to stay calm.

“It was a long time since the Netherlands beat Italy so it was a good job, but we do not have time to celebrate. We have an important game against France on Friday and we have to be ready for them. If we lose to them we are back where we started.”

Blackburn Rovers defender Andre Ooijer added: “We have to start quickly against France, the same as we did against Italy and play our own game.”

Van Nistelrooy, who described Monday’s win as “the most beautiful of my career,” was also playing the realist card, saying: “That was just one game and we have to stay focused.

“We have to play France and Romania, both are very good sides.”

France defender William Gallas is working out ways to stop van Nistelrooy from causing havoc in the French back row.

The Arsenal skipper said: “We have to beware of him, the fox in the box, who is always just on the boundaries of offside. We have to be concentrated for the entire 90 minutes.

“He’s the type of player who can make you forget him, then he suddenly strikes at any moment. The goal he scored against Italy was offside but he’s always well placed, and it’s never easy for defenders to mark players who you don’t see all the time.”

The 63-times capped defender is taking steps to prepare himself for the challenge ahead.

“To know how to cope with him I’ll be watching the video (of Monday’s game) with the team and on the pitch on Friday I’m going to analyse his play as quickly as possible.”

After their impotent display against Romania Domenech is unlikely to start Lyon striker Karim Benzema and Nicolas Anelka together again, for as Gallas pointed out: “We know we have to score against the Dutch!”

Holland are once again due to be without Arjen Robben but Robin van Persie is available if needed after fully recovering from a thigh strain.

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