Holland can survive their opening “Group of Death” test against world champions Italy in Berne on Monday without injured wideman Arjen Robben, coach Marco van Basten insisted Sunday.
The Dutch are out to emulate their 1988 compatriots and land the title – Van Basten was out almost as wide as Robben habitually plays when he cracked home a stunning goal in the final against the former Soviet Union – and the coach insisted his winger's groin strain was not the end of the world.
“Robben is a bit better and ran today (but) he will be out for seven to ten days,” said Van Basten.
“He's an important player, especially when he is on form and we will really miss him against Italy. But we came through a portion of the qualifiers without him and other injured players.
“Therefore we are capable of playing and winning without him. we have also found a good solution (to replace him) but I won't tell you which one.”
The Dutch must also rest attacking midfielder and thigh injury victim Robin van Persie.
Van Basten said Italy always deserved the utmost respect.
“We are going up against a tough adversary with a great deal of experience. The Italians were crowned world champions two years ago and the team is essentially the same one. They also performed well in qualifying.
“We are in an extremely difficult group with France and Romania so we will have to play very well to get out of this pool. But we have a good squad of players and have the chance to get off to a good start.”
Van Basten played at AC Milan with Italy coach Roberto Donadoni, and said they were close rivals.
“He is a friend, we know each other well. We played football together, golf too, and shared holidays also. He is a fighter. He has character and does everything to win. If the Italian team plays in his image it will doubtless be a very difficult encounter,” Van Basten said.
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