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NED v DEN Match Report

The match began with some interesting selection notes.  Notably absent was Arjen Robben who was still recovering from a hamstring injury.  There were some who thought he might be in the side following his arrival in South Africa on Saturday.  That was not to be the case as van der Vaart was given the starting spot.  Notably present was Nicklas Bendtner who was also recovering from an injury.  He started up front for the Danes.

In the first half the Dutch enjoyed 60% of the posession.  This was certainly part of the plan; press when defending and when in posession of the ball be patient and look to create clear goal scoring opportunities.  In reality the Dutch found themselves against a well organized and disciplined Danish defense.  There were similarities between this game and the Germany/Australia game with regards to ball posession and game plans.  The difference here is the inability of van Persie and co. to get free of their markers.  Van der Vaart and van Persie have had good glimpses but Sneijder was poor, often failing to adequately link play between the other three attacking players.

The only shot in anger from the Dutch arrived from Kuyt early on.  Bendtner had the best chance of the first period narrowly heading wide after a very good ball into the 18 yard box.  The referee also seemed to be fairly bored; once the first 45 were up he was quick to blow for halftime and forget about the snore-fest he had just witnessed.

The Oranje soon found a way through however after the break.  A cross from van Persie that looked well covered by Denmark was inexplicably turned into his own net off the back of his man, Agger.  One would have hoped that his would cause the game to open up and Denmark boss Olsen was quick to put on Gronkjaer in order to force the match.

The Dutch still seemed to struggle creatively.  One outrageous effort from van der Vaart forced Sorenson into a smart save: the pass from van Persie being taken on the volley with his instep while turning away from goal.  While it was a lovely chance in reality Sorenson had it comfortably blocked off.

A few substitutions by Denmark failed to change the game.  With about 20 minutes to go Eljero Elia replaced van der Vaart and instantaneously made an impact taking on defenders and beating them effortlessly.  Still there were no obvious scoring opportunities.

Good running from Elia and Kuyt created the second with seven minutes to go.  Elia was put through from Sneijder and after his shot came back off the post Kuyt was on hand to bury the ball ahead of the on-rushing defender.

In all the match was a good exhibition of controlled football with only a clear attacking threat missing.  As the match neared the end the Oranje began to find a few openings and you feel the next match against Japan will display a more confident Dutch side.

Dutch Player Ratings:

Stekelenburg – 6

van der Wiel – 7

Heitinga – 6

Mathijsen – 7

van Bronckhorst – 6

van Bommel – 7

de Jong – 8

Kuyt – 7

Sneijder – 5

van der Vaart – 6

van Persie – 6

Substitutes: Elia – 9; Affelay – 6

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