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"The intellectualisation
of football has
always foundered
on a simple problem-
-the players. Doing
all your most
rewarding thinking
with your feet seems
to dull the philo-
sophical impulse.
Unless, of course,
you are Dutch.
According to legend,
Europeans played
a moronic, muscular
version of the world's
game, until Holland
proclaimed its vision
of total football in the
1974 World Cup,
and enlightenment
dawned."

From:
Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football
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UEFA Euro 2012 Poland & Ukraine - Friendlies

Bulgarians surprise Oranje

27-5-2012

The Netherlands have suffered a surprising defeat in their first 'real' international of their run up to the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine. In the Amsterdam ArenA the end result was 1-2 to the visitors. Only Robin van Persie was able to break the Bulgarian defense in the first half.

Just before the final whistle however it was substitute Micanski who handed the Dutch a painful defeat. Up until that moment Holland had hardly been able to dent the Bulgarian defense.

In the very hot Amsterdam ArenA a nice set up by Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie had given Holland the lead after a series of attempts of the little midfielder to reach Van Persie had failed. Van Persies finish was excellent.

Up until that moment Oranje had trouble finding their way around the pitch. The pace was too low to really worry the Bulgarian defense, and the forwards wouldn't gel. Manager Bert van Marwijk had opted to put Klaas-Jan Huntelaar in the center with Van Persie, Rafael Van der Vaart and Sneijder around him, but it led to little danger. There was a long shot by Sneijder en a half chance for Van Persie. On the other side Bozhinov went close when his free kick cracked the bar.

On left back 18-year-old Jetro Willems made his debut. In the first half the PSV defender had trouble finding the right rhythm, but after the break he shrugged off all shyness and played a fine game, until he was replaced by Stijn Schaars. Schaars and Willems will have to fight it out for the left back position in the remaining days until Holland open their tournament on June 9.

That is hopefully enough time for center back Joris Mathijsen to recover from the injury he sustained in the 15th minute and for which he had to be replaced by Freddie Bouma, who got his first cap in four years.

An unfortunate handball by Rafael van der Vaart led to a penalty, which Ivelin Popov converted to the Bulgarian equalizer.

The only slightly exciting moment from the homeside came 10 minutes before the end when Arjen Robben replaced Huntelaar and the Bayern Munich player got a very warm reception from the crowd. Despite his appearance the Bulgarians scored a second just before full time that was as unexpected as it was unwelcome.

Netherlands

1-2

Bulgaria

 

Goals

45'   1-0
    1-1 Popov 48'
    1-2 Micanski 90'

Netherlands: Krul, Van der Wiel, Heitinga, Mathijsen (16' Bouma), Willems (62' Schaars), N. de Jong (82' Strootman), Van Bommel, Van Persie, Sneijder, Van der Vaart (62' Kuyt), Huntelaar (77' Robben).

Players not used: Boulahrouz, Vlaar, Stekelenburg, Narsingh, Vorm, L. de Jong.

Euro 2012 campaign - Results, schedule, standings

Holland at European Championships

All time European Championships ranking

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