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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
Group E - Qualifications

Holland want result after tumultuous week

8 October 2010

The Dutch national team resume their qualification campaign for the 2012 European Championships tonight with a game against Moldavia. A good result tonight and on Tuesday in Amsterdam against Sweden will set the team well on their way towards Poland and Ukraine.

It will be interesting to see how the team fare after the commotion of the past days. It's the first time since Bert van Marwijk took over from Marco van Basten in 2008 that there has been unrest surrounding the squad. The Dutch manager started out with a spotless campaign to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa, winning every game up until the final. Only in the dying minutes of extra time did the record get stained.

Holland were proud of the achievements of the team, at least so it seemed when the squad was cheered during a boat trip through the canals of Amsterdam. But there was also a lot of criticism on the defensive approach and the sometimes very aggressive style of a team that has made a name for itself in the past with attractive, offensive play. Last Sunday Nigel de Jong broke the leg of Hatem Ben Arfa in a game with his club Manchester City against Newcastle United. "A bridge too far," Van Marwijk concluded, trying to make peace with the public opinion. He removed the midfielder from his squad for the upcoming games.

The absence of De Jong offers Van Marwijk an ideal possibility to experiment on his team and try and let it play a bit more attractive and less predictable. Van der Vaart has shown before that he is capable of combining his offensive qualities with defensive skills. "I am all for it," Van der Vaart said earlier this week. "I think it's a good plan," Wesley Sneijder thought.

The manager will only reveal his plans shortly before the game. "Because the players will only hear the lineup just before the game," he explained. With the absence of Arjen Robben and Eljero Elia he will also have to come up with a new name for the left flank, where Ibrahim Afellay will probably be picked over Urby Emanuelson.

Van Marwijk expects a difficult game. "It's tough to win in this atmosphere," he said.

Holland don't only have to deal with tough opposition that beat Finland 2-0 only last month. There's also the terrible conditions of the pitch that will not help Holland's passing game. Seven years ago UEFA judged the pitches in Chisinau unfit for international football and the teams had to move to nearby Transnistria, a little Mafia state used for whitewash operations by organized crime.

Fearful of attacks by the local power brokers the officials of the Moldavian FA and government stayed home and watched the game on TV. But this time around they can watch their team live when Holland take on the team of the poorest country in Europe. They are hoping for an upset that would fit a very tumultuous week of the Dutch team.

Euro 2012 campaign - Results, schedule, standings

Holland at European Championships

All time European Championships ranking

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