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Van Basten dismisses notion of French, Italian stitch-up

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 14 Jun 2008

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Dutch coach Marco van Basten went out of his way to allay fears from France and Italy that his already qualified side would take their foot off the pedal for their remaining Group C match.

Holland's brilliant 4-1 win over France here Friday left Raymond Domenech's team and the Azzurri facing elimination.

For either side to be certain of scraping through as group of death runners up they need a result on Tuesday and also for Holland to beat Romania.

A win for Romania would see Victor Piturca's underdogs slip through at the expense of the champions and vice champions from the 2006 World Cup.

Van Basten, asked if he would rest key players like goalscorers Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie in Tuesday's academic final first round game, shrugged his head.

“I don't know, I'm very happy that we beat France, that we're qualified.

“To be number one in our group is very positive for us but it's our obligation to our players and the fans to take this last game against Romania seriously.

“The result may not be important to us but we have to approach it in an efficient manner.

“We don't have to win but we will try and score and see what happens.

“I'm not going to think about losing against Romania just to eliminate France and Italy. I'm not thinking at all about them, we have to take care of our game.

“I'm very happy we beat France and tomorrow I'll start thinking about the Romania game.

“We try to prepare for every game seriously.”

A first half header from Dick Kuyt then goals from second half substitutes Robben and van Persie and man of the match Wesley Sneijder did it for France who grabbed a consolation from fit again Thierry Henry.

Van Basten explained why he'd brought on Robben and van Persie for the start of the second half.

“It was necessary as in the first half we didn't have enough space. With Robben and van Persie they're two players who can go deep and it gives the team more room.”

Reflecting on his side's performance at the Stade de Suisse the Dutch boss who is moving on to coach Ajax next season added: “I'm very happy. To beat Italy 3-0 and then France 4-1 you can only be happy.

“We started well, with a good goal from a corner. Then we were forced to defend as France gave us a lot of pressure and created some difficulties.

“But my team was able to defend, and did it quite well.

“Then in the second half Robben came on and that helped us. We were much more dangerous. France tried everything to make life hard for us, bringing on (Nicolas) Anelka and (Bafetimbi) Gomes but in the end we made some good goals from counter attacks.”

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