There’s been a shift in the odds against the Netherlands this morning, with Bert van Marwijk’s side now up at 8/11 compared to the halves they were nearly at just yesterday.
This move has potentially come following the loss of centre back Joris Mathijsen who has been ruled out through injury for today’s game. It’s a loss for the 2010 World Cup runners-up certainly, but I don’t think it’s a huge blow. Not one to warrant this rise in the odds.
Both Ron Vlaar and Wilfred Bouma were tested alongside Johnny Heitinga in the Netherlands’ last two pre-tournament friendlies; a 2-0 victory over Slovakia and a 6-0 thrashing of on-holiday Northern Ireland. Bouma has 37 caps at international level and his club experience includes playing in the Premier League with Aston Villa. Vlaar only has 7 caps for the Netherlands senior team and spent his entire club career in the Dutch Eredivisie. Both are capable defenders. The latter is taller than Mathijsen, given their duties later today would be matching up to the aerial ability of Nicklas Bendtner.
The Danish first choice striker has hardly set the Premier League alight during his spells at both Arsenal and Sunderland. In support of Bendtner is Ajax playmaker Christian Eriksen in the centre of midfield. I’m read several bloggers claiming this player is going to be one of the stars of the tournament. Given that he’s one of the best prospects in world football it’s an easy statement to make. I don’t he will be anything special in this tournament.
I’ve seen Christian Eriksen play for both Ajax and Denmark and I think he’s a fantastic player. But I don’t see him getting the chance to shine in this tournament. With a few knocks in the Dutch defence I see Bert van Marwijk protecting his defence with both Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong playing in front of the back four this evening. They’re two tough, experienced and clever defensive midfielders. Eriksen will be competing with both of them. Best of luck.
Denmark don’t have a great deal of other talent in their midfield. William Kvist is a decent player, Michael Krohn-Dehli’s got the number 9 shirt but failed to break into the Ajax first team some years ago. Dennis Rommedahl has shirt number 10 but age isn’t on the side of a player who relied on his pace some years ago. He’s back playing in his home league now, a long way off the top European leagues.
The Danes will be without their first choice keeper Thomas Sorensen who picked up an injury in a 3-1 pre-tournament friendly defeat to Brazil. Stephan Andersen looks set to replace the Stoke City goalkeeper. 30 years old and with 10 caps for his country, Andersen was back up at Charlton Athletic many a year ago.
Defensively, Daniel Agger is a solid defender, but I’m not a fan of his centre back partner Simon Kjaer who had a poor time in the German Bundesliga with VfL Wolfsburg and was quickly loaned out to AS Roma. Left back Simon Poulsen is vulnerable to mistakes and right back Lars Jacobsen wasn’t the most impressive during Premier League spells with Everton, Blackburn Rovers and West Ham.
Denmark will likely face up to the Premier League top scorer, Robin van Persie, world beat Arjen Robben, playmaker Wesley Sneijder and Ibrahim Afellay. Do I need to go into details about these players? No. Rafael van der Vaart and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar available on the bench if needed.
The Netherlands will control the possession in this game and create the most chances. In Robin van Persie they have one of the best strikers in the world. Arjen Robben cutting in from the wing is a goalscoring winger to add to that whilst Wesley Sneijder joint-top scorer at the 2010 World Cup. The centre backs will be threat from set pieces too with good delivery in the arsenal. This Dutch side are too good for Denmark.